Glamorous: The Duchess of Cambridge's only sister has become an overnight sensation following her sister's wedding to Prince William
A life can change in a moment. And certainly something seismic happened to Pippa Middleton when she stepped out of the car at Westminster Abbey.
As far as the world is concerned, it was BC and AD. Before the Church, then After the Dress.
Yes, Kate’s glorious bridal gown rightly grabbed all the headlines. But smoking hot on her heels was lil’ sis, poured into a column of buttermilk satin, in a button-backed dress that was tighter than a coat of paint.
True, its unforgiving structure meant Pippa had to mince up and down the Abbey aisle like a geisha with corns, but it was worth it.
After all, her role as maid of honour was a secondary one. Hold the bouquet, keep smiling, don’t let the bride get spinach on her teeth.
Most importantly, she had to attend to a majestic bridal train that was almost nine feet long. A duty that required a lot of bending over.
So if you have to do this in front of a global audience of billions, you might as well bunny dip in an unforgettable frock that is going to maximise your best asset.
Mince, mince, mince, dip, dip, dip, she went; our glorious Pippa the Big Dipper. Not since the first Panzer tank turned and fled at the battle of El Alamein has a rear end made such an impression on the world.
The impact has been incredible. So much so it is no exaggeration to say everything has changed for Pippa.
Party girl: Pippa Middleton is almost unrecognisable from her University days. She loves fancy dress
In one shake of a tail feather, she has become a global celebrity, a household name and one of the most talked about people at the wedding of the century. More than that, she is now one of the most eligible women in the world.
F ROM this moment on, Pippa can have her pick of the aristocracy, the landed gentry, the new rich, assorted gassy celebrities, the Chelsea back four.
Anyone really, up to and including Prince Harry, if his wolfish expression was anything to go by.
One could understand if her current beau, Alex Loudon, 30, starts to look worried.
The lantern-jawed banker is the rich scion of a stately home, former cricket international and friend of Prince William’s since Eton. But will he be enough to keep Pippa?
For in the three days since the wedding, her stock has soared a million-fold. She’s in big, big demand.
American magazines will want to put her on their covers, fashion designers will want her to wear their creations and dukes will be queuing up to marry her.
Not to mention the swarms of rogues and rascals who will want to distil some of that royal potency for their own dastardly ends.
Fun: Pippa sports a Burberry cap and a fake barbed wire tattoo to pose as a chav. At another party she wrapped herself in toilet paper
Joker: Pippa is known for her fun-loving party attitude and is usually the centre of attention when out and about
As has been said before, Pippa is the Middleton who gets the best deal out of the royal romance; all of the attention, without the responsibility and restraint of protocol.
Yet no one could have imagined that the confetti of global approval would shower around her quite so explosively. And as her appeal hits hitherto unimaginable heights, the question is: just what will Pippa do with her new-found fame?
The new Duchess of Cambridge might be content to bumble back to the relative anonymity of being an RAF wife in Anglesey, but what about Pippa? Will she be able to restrain herself from turning down the clarion call to become a celebrity?
For a girl like Pippa, who has always had the flinty spark of ambition in her pretty eyes, the temptation to capitalise must be overwhelming.
Since William and Kate started dating, the discreet Middletons have barely put a foot wrong — give or take a few unwise ‘royal’ items on their party planning website — but if anyone’s going to break ranks and smash the royal glass ceiling (not to mention Cinderella’s glass slipper) you can bet it will be Pippa.
For now that her appetite has been whetted, what will she do to trump this stardust moment of global attention?
Pippa has always loved the limelight her sister’s relationship has brought, and there has always been the suspicion that hanging back in the shadows has been frustrating.
Now that she’s emerged as the more glamorous and sexy half of the world’s best-known sister act, it seems unlikely she will be prepared to melt back into those shadows.
Perhaps the prospect of a safe marriage to a rich banker like Alex and a career as a party planner will pale beside the treats now on offer to her in the great finger buffet of life.
Her personal history suggests she might be tempted. Philippa Charlotte Middleton is Carole and Michael Middleton’s second daughter and their middle child. She grew up in Berkshire and, like her sister and younger brother, attended Marlborough College in Wiltshire. Then she studied English Literature at Edinburgh University.
There, her social ambitions flourished. Pippa made it her business to hang out with the kind of men who mattered. To her, at any rate.
Rear of the year: Pippa Middleton's rear became one of the most talked about things on the internet
Her Royal Hotness: The 27-year-old has received a huge amount of attention since she was her sister's bridesmaid
Her Edinburgh flatmates were Lord Edward Innes-Ker, a son of the Duke of Roxburgh, and Earl Percy, heir to the Duke of Northumberland. Her boyfriends appear to have leapt from the pages of a Jilly Cooper novel; they include Jonathan ‘JJ’ Jardine Paterson, an heir to the Hong Kong Jardine Matheson property fortune, Scottish aristocrat Billy More Nesbitt and diamond heir Simon Youngman. Flash.
After graduation, Pippa managed to arrange a not-too-taxing career combining the two main interests in her life — partying and networking.
She worked at London events planner Table Talk and last year began writing the online magazine for her parents’ party business.
In 2008 she was named Number One Society Singleton by Tatler magazine, eclipsing her new brother-in-law’s cousin Princess Eugenie. She has been waiting for her moment — has it finally arrived? Some say Pippa is far too cool to cash in and that she would never endanger her sister’s reputation. But Kate is married and there’s not so much to lose.
A different set of rules apply now the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have left the centre stage to start married life together.
For years, Pippa was straining at the leash. She would arrange personal interviews and photo shoots, only to pull out at the last moment. What happens next is anyone’s guess.
O NE THING is sure: whatever she decides to do or not do, she is on the threshold of a potent kind of celebrity, even if it is only by royal association.
In any other world, she might be just another party planner with a clipboard, swoosh of fabulous hair and some good ideas about table placements. In the orbit of the Duchess of Cambridge, she can become a star.
Joker: Even Prince Harry couldn't resist trying to charm the younger sibling of his new sister-in-law
I'll be back: Pippa Middleton leaves the Goring Hotel with her family after her sister's wedding but is sure to be in the spotlight again
It has been a remarkable ascent. Before the wedding was over, several Facebook sites were set up in honour of her sainted bottom. Everyone is raving about the 27-year-old brunette dubbed Her Royal Hotness, now and for ever more.
Despite her un-Windsorish fondness for toffee-coloured fake tan, Pippa almost stole the royal wedding show. However, let us not forget that what was mostly on show was a sweet mutual respect and sisterly solidarity between the Middleton girls.
Pippa looked thrilled and proud, executing her maid of honour duties with unshowy aplomb. Kate was generous and kind to allow her sister to shine in such a slinky, attention-grabbing, mini-bride outfit.
Indeed, a less munificent bride would have drowned Pippa in an avalanche of knicker pink taffeta ruffles, just to be on the safe side.
Let us hope the Duchess of Cambridge does not come to regret this act of sororial generosity.
For now that glamorous Pippa is out of her box, she might never want to climb back in again. She is ready for her close-up, Mr DeMille! Lights, camera, bunny dip and dip again.
However, I do wonder if Kate has unwittingly unleashed the beast at the heart of the Middleton family.
At the end of the day, Pippa is a striking girl with a delightful figure. Nothing more and nothing less. What is amazing, even in this day and age, is what a great dress and proximity to the Royal Family can do to burnish a young woman’s reputation and allure.
Whether or not Pippa Middleton uses this power wisely, we shall have to wait and see.
Forget Pippa, Chelsy's the only girl for Harry
To many, the chemistry between best man Prince Harry and maid of honour Pippa Middleton at the wedding was palpable.
A grinning Harry, 26, was seen telling her as they walked out of Westminster Abbey: ‘You do look very beautiful today – seriously.’
In reality, there is only one woman in his life – on-off girlfriend Chelsy Davy, 25.
But friends, who likened the couple to Romeo and Juliet’s ‘star-crossed lovers’, say their different lives make their relationship difficult. Zimbabwean-born Chelsy enjoys the freedom of Africa, while Harry is bound by his royal duties.
The pair first met in Cape Town in South Africa in 2004 during Harry’s gap year travels. But Chelsy has always fiercely valued her independence – and the fact she is completely un-phased about dating a prince has only made Harry want her more.
They both wear their hearts on their sleeves – which has led to some blazing rows and periods of angry separation.
In 2009 Chelsy quit her legal studies in the UK and returned to Africa, telling friends she ‘could never, ever see herself as a member of the Royal Family’. Harry was devastated. A friend said: ‘When one of her friends asked him when he would be visiting Cape Town again, Harry texted back, “I don’t know. I lost the best thing that ever happened to me and I’m paying for it”.’
But within months they were back together. Chelsy, whose father has made a multi-million-pound fortune selling hunting holidays to wealthy Americans, has moved back to the UK and starts work as a solicitor this autumn.
The week before the wedding the pair flew to Botswana for a brief but romantic holiday. On Thursday Harry visited her at her London flat, and the pair returned to the Belgravia address in the early hours of Saturday.
According to reports, they openly kissed at the Buckingham Palace reception on Friday. One source claimed that the prince nuzzled up to her and whispered: ‘You’re next.’
But another said: ‘Chelsy loves Harry but her heart is back with her family in Africa. She hates all the hoop-la that comes with dating a royal... she says, “All of that fuss, it’s just not for me”.’