With a new royal baby on the way, the focus has been off Pippa Middleton, Kate’s younger sister, in recent months.
If you were to believe some of the popular myths and internet gossip about Pippa, you might think she would be jealous not to be the centre of attention.
In truth, that’s far from the case.
“She never asked for any of the attention,” says a friend, “And she couldn’t be happier about the fact that finally it appears to be calming down. She just wants to get on with her own life.”
In the four years since she inadvertently stole the limelight at Kate’s wedding in a figure hugging McQueen bridesmaid dress, Pippa’s life has rarely been her own.
She became an overnight internet sensation, but the pleasures of fame quickly soured, despite a lucrative book deal for her party planning tome Celebrate. Life—and love—quickly became intolerable.
She broke up with her long term boyfriend Alex Loudon, and, despite an endless line of suitors, struggled to find a new love.
“It just became absolutely impossible for any man to be with her,” a friend tells the Royalist, “Wherever she went there were literally photographers jumping out of bushes. No man was prepared to put up with that.”
The trouble was made worse by the fact that because Pippa had exploited her fame by writing a frankly rather poor book which was clearly only published because she was famous, the paparazzi were able—rightly or wrongly—to use this as justification to invade her privacy.
Legal letters from Royal solicitors Harbottle and Lewis to photographers did little to stem the tide.
Then, just as the fuss about the book was dying down, Pippa started a personal, first-person column in the Telegraph. Short-lived as it was, this was an incredibly ill-judged move.
It attracted such ridicule the comments section had to be turned off. More dangerously for Pippa, it contained teasing references to her personal life, leading picture editors to once again argue that if she was invading her own privacy quite willingly, why shouldn’t they be allowed to join in?
In late 2012, Pippa found understanding and romance in the arms of a handsome 35-year-old stockbroker, Nico Jackson, whom she met on a ski holiday.
Like Pippa, Nico comes from a solid working, middle-class background. He went to a government Grammar school, not a private school, and his parents own a ski-wear shop in Kent.
After leaving university, Nico won a place on M&C Saatchi’s competitive graduate training scheme, before opting for a career in the City, working as a stockbroker at Deutsche Bank.
He moved to Geneva last year for work, but also, friends say, to minimize media intrusion in his life. “You are not going to be taken seriously in the office if there is a photo of you going out for dinner with Pippa Middleton in the paper every morning,” says a city associate.
In recent months, Pippa, taking a lead from Nico, has resolved to make her life less appealing to the photographers of Fleet Street, and she has been living a less showy—if not entirely simple—existence.
She was included in the family holiday to the private island of Mustique in February, taking Nico with her.
She has been back and forth to visit Nico several times in Geneva, and the pair have been spotted on the surrounding ski slopes several times. They both competed in the 26-mile Engadin Ski Marathon in St Moritz this year—Nico beat Pippa by eight minutes.
Pippa is said by friends to enjoy the anonymity of the slopes. Wrapped up in goggles and ski gear, she is a less appealing quarry for the paparazzi, who are finding that the market for Pippa pics is becoming less and less lucrative by the day.
Other than that, there has been little foreign travel. Jaunts have instead been restricted to occasional weekends to Scotland or the country.
Although she is expected to be a fixture at many of the summer’s society events and European weddings, for the past few months Pippa has been living reasonably quietly at her centrally located London flat which she shares with her brother James, spending the odd evening out with friends at London restaurants such as Mayfair’s 5 Hertford Street.
She is no longer minded to accept freebies. She is fanatical about staying in shape and goes to her local gym most mornings, and spends the afternoons working.
Working? Why yes. Although there was disappointment recently when a mooted deal as a special correspondent with NBC did not pan out after a square-dancing try-out didn’t go so well, Pippa is far from being without offers of employment.
She continues to work away at her regular assignments—a column for the glossy monthly Waitrose magazine came to an end last year, but she is now working for another magazine owned by the supermarket group, penning pieces with a work-out and exercise focus in their Waitrose Weekend supplement.
She writes for the Spectator and continues to do her column for Vanity Fair, which is steadily morphing into a posh sports column.
Her most recent Vanity Fair column, for example, was about the world’s best ski resorts, together with a fetching shoot by Perry Ogden.
Graydon Carter remains more than delighted to have the future Queen’s sister on the masthead, and Pippa continues to be seen as an important asset for the publications she agrees to work for, say friends.
It’s a delicate balancing act, but the signs are Pippa might just be figuring out how to get it right.
She doesn’t want to be forgotten, but she might just be hoping that with the arrival of the new royal baby, the global army of royal correspondents will find something more compelling to talk about for the next four years than her shapely derrière.