Those around Prince William have always insisted that he enjoys the company of his “normal” in-laws, and, if further proof were needed, he is currently vacationing with Kate on the tropical hidey-hole of Mustique, along with her entire family, including sister and royal bridesmaid Pippa.
William and Kate are expected to return to the U.K. in the next few days. Early next month, William will be off to the Falkland Islands for a six-week tour of duty with his search-and-rescue helicopter team, so the willingness of the prince to share his valuable free time with Pippa and the rest of the Middletons is even more striking.
In truth, this is a Middleton family holiday that William is joining; Kate, Pippa, and their brother, James, have escaped to Mustique for a few weeks in the midst of the dark and cold British winter every year for the last five years. This year they are staying at a fully staffed villa, Aurora House, which belongs to hedge-fund manager Mark Cecil, who along with his wife, Katie, was a guest at last year’s royal wedding. The Middletons usually go to Mustique in December, but Kate had to be at Sandringham for Christmas, so the trip was delayed.
Kate, Pippa, James, and the Middleton parents flew first class on British Airways via St. Lucia last week, while William was stuck until the weekend in cold and chilly Anglesey, where he works as a helicopter rescue pilot. He joined the Middletons in Mustique last Saturday.
There was a celebratory dinner after William arrived to mark both Carole’s 57th birthday and Kate’s 30th. Kate’s actual birthday fell on Jan. 9, and on the day itself she had a low-key dinner for friends and family.
The patronage of the young royals is a coup for the Mustique Company, the private corporation that effectively owns the island, reviving the exclusive royal association with Princess Margaret, which did a great deal to make the word “Mustique” a byword for glamour and hedonism in the 1960s and '70s. In recent years the island has hosted holidaymakers such as Mick Jagger, Amy Winehouse, and Bill Gates, but an endorsement from a fresh generation of superstar royalty will do much to recall the island’s heyday.
Mustique is also famous for the omertà that ensures that very little celebrity tittle-tattle ever makes it off the island. The Mustique Company boasts that it is “dedicated to protecting the island’s privacy.” The most famous story to emerge from its palm-fringed shores concerns the actor John Bindon, whose party trick was suspending up to five half-pint beer mugs on his private parts. Princess Margaret was said to have photographed her lover, landscape gardener Roddy Llewelyn, naked on the beach.
Unsurprisingly, the island has been more or less locked down for the latest royal visit, and other guests at the Caribbean hotspot have faced a range of strictures to protect the Middletons’ privacy, including a ban on using the souped-up golf buggies (or “mules”) that are the main form of transport on the island. Guests are instead being required to be driven by taxi for the duration of the royal visit, ensuring that they can’t get near the Middleton compound without an invite.
The chances of any mistake being made by the Mustique Company that might allow photos to emerge from the trip—as they did in 2008, when William and Kate were pictured looking tanned and gorgeous on an old fishing boat—seem remote.
However, some reports have been filtering out. According to the blog Styleite.com, Pippa has been spotted wearing a Lotty B swimsuit. The designer of Lotty B swimwear is Lotty Bunbury, wife of Mustique doctor Michael Bunbury.
The photo editor of the Daily Mail recently told the U.K.’s Leveson inquiry into press ethics that the paper was now publishing only pictures of Pippa taken at official events to which photographers were invited. So maybe it’s just as well no pictures have emerged of the Middleton vacation, for somehow, one feels, pictures of Pippa’s famous derriere in swimwear might be too good for even the most high-minded picture editor to pass up.