James Middleton's Parking Problem
When the press have the temerity to enquire, royal press officers frequently reiterate to the Royalist and others that the information that Kate’s siblings are not part of the royal family and they therefore do not answer questions about them, nor do they enjoy royal police protection.
But it seems the Middletons are not averse to availing of some of the perks that membership of the Firm confers.
For, on Saturday, James Middleton arrived at a wedding his sister Kate was attending with minutes to spare – and drove up to the front of the church before passing his keys to a royal protection officer who then parked his car for him, according to a respected press photographer who was at the event.
James was not with Kate, who had arrived earlier. There was significant press interest in the wedding because the bride was walked down the aisle by Michael Middleton, Kate’s dad, as her own father is deceased.
While absent-mindedly taking advantage of a policeman to valet-park your car might not be the grossest act of cashing-in, and this is undoubtedly a minor incident, it illustrates the complications at the heart of the Middletons status as outsiders on the edge of the royal establishment.
Are they allowed to use royal perks or not?
It is particularly surprising that it was James who tossed his car-keys to a taxpayer funded protection officer, for whereas Pippa was quick to grab herself a book deal, the younger Mr Middleton, 26, who read the lesson at the royal wedding of his sister Kate, has been scrupulously careful to avoid allegations that he is cashing in on his older sister’s fame.
In an interview with the UK Sunday Times, James, who runs a baking business selling cake-making packs, said that 'thousands' of offers similar to his sister's $500,000 book deal have been 'put on the table' for him, but he had declined to accept any because, 'I know what I am capable of and I don’t feel I need to do that.'
The car-parking incident came to light when it was reported by respected press photographer and picture agent Niraj Tanna on his twitter account over the weekend.
“Been going through more footage from yesterdays weddings. James Middleton passes his cars keys to a police officer to move his car,” he wrote, “Tax payer funded police officer obliges to James Middleton's request to move his car. Parking attendants paid for by us the tax payer… He stepped out of car and gave the key to waiting protection officer. Officer jumped in car and moved it off…The Duchess had already arrived in a separate car.”
A royal press officer told The Beast: “James Middleton is not a member of the Royal Family and therefore not represented by this office. Furthermore, we do not ever comment on security.”
The Middletons - including the Duchess of Cambridge – were attending the wedding of their close friend, Thierry Kelaart, who asked Mr Middleton to give her away in the absence of her father, the late Paul Kelaart, a furniture restorer who died in 1992 when Miss Kelaart was 10.
The Duchess of Cambridge once again showed her thrift at recycling designer outfits, wearing a pale grey silk dress with an embroidered floral motif by Erdem, which she first wore at the Queen’s official birthday parade, Trooping the Colour, in June.
Tanna – who tweets under the business name of @ikonpictures and has been covering the royal beat for almost eight years - also complained that police officers blocked a video camera operator who was trying to get pictures of the wedding. He questioned whether preventing pictures being taken was part of the police protection unit's remit.
Shame they didn't manage to block some much more intrusive photographers a few weeks earlier, eh?