There is not, as far as we know, a drop of royal blood between them – but make no mistake, the wedding of Pippa Middleton to James Matthews was fit for a Queen.
From the co-ordinated pageboy and flower girl outfits to the dazzling £200,000 engagement ring – not to mention the English sparkling wine, the Giles Deacon wedding dress, the mobile phone ban and the tight security – this was an event planned with as much meticulous attention to detail as anything the Palace could dream up. There was even a fly-past.
The Middletons, it would seem, share a taste for the kind of luxury that is so ostentatiously tasteful it borders on the vulgar.
The bespoke glass orangery, shipped in from Belgium at a cost of £100,000 (no mud and marquee for our Pippa); an extravagant son-et-lumiere entertainment, in which the newlyweds’ faces were projected onto the facade of Bucklebury Manor; £40,000 worth of caviar and not one, but two Jaguars to ferry the bride and groom. Move over John Prescott.
No surprise that the whole thing reportedly cost over £1million, an impressive sum by anybody’s standards. Lord knows how the Middletons managed it – they must have had to sell an awful lot of paper cups on their Party Pieces website to be able to splash that kind of money on a wedding. It was Tatler meets Hello!, with shades of Made In Chelsea (the rather tacky reality TV show that Mr Matthews’ younger brother, Spencer, used to star in), Rich Kids Of Instagram (another reality TV show following the lives of wealthy and outrageously spoiled 20-somethings) and a sprinkling of Forbes magazine.
In fact, I couldn’t help thinking as I watched yet another elegantly-turned ankle process into the church, that the whole thing would have made a fantastic opening episode for a new reality TV show, a sort of upper-class version of Keeping Up With The Kardashians. Especially as both families have daughters who are famous mainly on account of their nice bottoms.
Still, you have to hand it to them – they know how to throw a party.
Pippa looked absolutely beautiful, radiant in her high-necked lace dress which showed off her athletic figure and graceful Middleton limbs to perfection.
The Duchess of Cambridge was her customary poised and elegant self in an exquisite dusty rose pink tea-dress with signature nude heels, just eye-catching enough to acknowledge her status but not so showy as to outshine her sister on her big day.
The little royals behaved adorably and according to type, George a little – but not too much – boisterous in his breeches and Charlotte the perfect little princess, her heart-shaped posy clutched in her chubby fist. Even the arrival of James Middleton’s on-off girlfriend Donna Air in a (shock horror) cream ensemble couldn’t dampen the mood. Such was the bonhomie that a pew was also set aside for Bad Uncle Gary (he of the Ibiza/drugs connections) and his daughter, Pippa’s cousin – although they were not at the after-party, presumably to dispel any related rumours of bad behaviour.
Mr Middleton, it must be said, had the faint air of a man finally nearing the end of a very long and very arduous journey, while Mrs Middleton was the veritable chatelaine who got the cream, resplendent in top-to-toe pink, treating the watching cameras to a well-rehearsed regal wave.
And who can blame her? After all, it’s not every day one gets to host the second (William), third (Prince George), fourth (Princess Charlotte), fifth (Prince Harry), eighth (Princess Eugenie) and 49th (Lady Gabriella Windsor) in line to the throne at one’s humble £6million Home Counties abode. Not to mention tennis ace Roger Federer and his (rather grumpy looking) missus, as well as Hollywood actress, pin-up and potential future royal Meghan Markle and a seemingly endless assortment of the beautiful, the well-heeled and the orthodontically blessed.
This was, as they say in the business, Mrs M’s ‘time to shine’. Having found herself politely but firmly sidelined at the nuptials of her eldest daughter, second time round she left nothing to chance.
She placed the Middleton family centre stage and gave us, for the first time, a glimpse of what they are really about and who their friends really are.
Thus hipster beards and expensive highlights vied with bespoke suits and designer hats in what must have been one of the most well-groomed and best-looking guest lists since George and Amal Clooney got hitched in Italy. Everyone sported expensive tans, the kind you only get from Caribbean holidays and playing tennis during office hours. They all looked unerringly alpha. Hardly surprising, I suppose, when you think that the groom used to be a racing driver before giving it all up to become chief executive of Eden Rock Capital Management – named after a hotel on the West Indies island of St Barths that Mr Matthews’ father David restored.
Ultimately, such VDWs (vulgar displays of wealth) are neither here nor there.
As the new Mr and Mrs Matthews will soon find out, the success or failure of a marriage bears no relation to the extravagance of the wedding. Of course it’s nice to mark the occasion – but some of the most successful marriages I’ve witnessed started out with a simple ceremony and a few sandwiches in the pub afterwards.
After all, a wedding is just one day. A marriage is the rest of your life.
© Associated Newspapers Ltd.