The news that Pippa Middleton, the sister of Kate who displayed a scene-stealing derrière at the royal wedding, is to publish a book on how to organize the perfect party, has gone down about as well in Britain as would a keynote address by Prince Philip at the NAACP Convention.
In a rare pincer attack, both the left-wing Guardian and the right-wing Daily Mail have monstered the hapless Pippa, producing their own scathing parodies of how the Duchess of Cambridge’s sister’s new tome might look.
Neither can resist referencing Prince Harry’s ill-advised choice of a Nazi costume at a fancy dress party in 2005. “My royal in-laws love a fancy dress party with an original theme. For example, you could have a Nazi theme?” writes The Guardian's Catherine Bennett, while David Thomas, in the Mail, has Pippa saying, “I adore fancy-dress parties, but it's such hard work trying to think of a theme. I used to think it was a safe bet to go for uniforms, but since Harry got into all that trouble for wearing a swastika armband, that's a no-no.”
The Daily Mail piece was illustrated with an oft-seen cache of embarrassing photos of Pippa at various college parties, engaged in japes such as wearing a dress made out of toilet paper (“All the naughty boys pour wine on it to see if it goes soggy”) and clambering atop a human pyramid (“It’s crucial to be the girl on top—like me—because then everyone knows you’re the thinnest!”)
The justification for this book is that Pippa is in the party business—she works for her parents’ mail-order party shop, Party Pieces, but, as she has previously labored in the field of public relations, one might have thought that young Pip would recall the basic rule of that industry: try not to make the public hate you.
Has Pippa learned nothing from the adventures of the ghastly Sarah Ferguson (or “Duchess,” as she ludicrously still insists on being called, despite the fact that she divorced Andrew, Duke of York, in 1996) who was caught in May 2010 drunkenly offering access to her ex for $500,000? What about the treatment meted out to Peter Phillips, a lowly 13th in line to the throne, who was pilloried for selling his wedding photos to Hello magazine for £500,000? His sister, Zara Phillips, then tried to repeat the trick with her own nuptials, but was warned off by the palace.
The sight of minor royals and royals-in-law—whom the public suspect of living featherbedded lifestyles anyway—cashing in on their regal connections irritates the Great British public at the best of times. But there could scarcely be a worse time for Pippa to be hawking a £1 million book deal around the publishing world. Britain is in the grip of government-mandated austerity the likes of which has not been seen since the 1950s, unemployment is at 8.1 percent, its highest for 17 years, and there are very real fears the country may be slipping back into recession.
So it’s hardly the perfect moment, culturally, for a privileged young lady who will one day be the queen’s sister to be bringing out a guide to entertaining in style, especially when Kate is the woman who can do no wrong, engaging in thoroughly worthy pursuits such as raising the profile of UNICEF in drought-hit Kenya, while effortlessly topping every best-dressed list in town in the bargain.
Pippa’s book, meanwhile, is expected to tackle some of the same weighty issues she covers in her blog, The Party Times, on her parents website. Previous postings give “dos and don’ts” such as, “The key to creating a wonderful party lies not in spending vast amounts but in planning—from choice of venue, entertainer, and party theme to the selection of food, decorations and of course the birthday cake.”
It’s hard to believe that just six months ago Pippa Middleton was being hailed as the best thing to happen to the royal family since her sister. More and more, it seems like the British media are lining her up for the role of Fergie II.