The world looked on with fascination in 2011 as a refreshingly down-to-earth girl married Britain's royal heir. And amid all the pomp and ceremony, Duchess Kate's sister and maid-of-honor Pippa Middleton also generated admiring comments in her own right, coming dangerously close to upstaging the bride. Such is their closeness, though, that Kate will have been amused rather than unsettled by the attention paid to her little sister. Now, as Kate helps Pippa prepare for her own big day, we look at the special bond of this much talked-about sibling duo.
When you are as famous as the Duchess of Cambridge is now, it must be comforting to have someone you can rely on 100 per cent without questioning their motives. And as Kate has recently found out following the resignation of her trusted private secretary of many years, while many people come and go, your sister will always be there for you.
On May 20, 2017, in a neat reversal of roles, Kate, two years Pippa's senior, will provide a supporting act when the events planner and media personality marries her own Prince Charming, hedge fund manager James Matthews. The sisters will have been putting their heads together to plan the society wedding of the year ever since James proposed with an exquisite four-carat ring, said to be worth £200,000 (around $244,000).
The two sisters' relationship close hasn't changed a bit since Kate married into the royal family
Growing up, the girls were part of a close-knit clan, including little brother James Middleton, born in 1987, who all helped out in the family business and revelled in country walks and cozy Christmas celebrations at which their father Michael would amuse them by wearing costumes, one year even making an entrance as a sumo wrestler. The girls attended the boarding school Marlborough College together, both playing on the hockey team, where Pippa had the added distinction of being captain.
Pippa made headlines as maid-of-honour at Kate's 2011 wedding to Prince William
Their relationship hasn't changed one bit since Kate married into the House of Windsor, with the Middletons still holidaying together in Mustique and attending society events like Wimbledon, often with Prince William in tow. The Middleton girls' charm has much to do with the example of their supremely calm and collected, elegant mother Carole, who never seems overawed by her daughter's royal in-laws. Together she, Kate and Pippa make a formidable trio who stay right up to date on each other's lives, and love to exchange clothes and make-up tips.
In an interview on NBC in 2014, Pippa spoke of her family, saying: "We can be normal with each other and that's kept us all affixed to the ground." Of her bond with Kate, she said: "We have a very normal sisterly relationship. We're very close and we support each other and get each other's opinions."
Among the "normal" stuff they've always chatted about is their love lives. When Kate split up with William in 2007 it was to Pippa she turned, with her sister lifting her mood with fun nights out. Thankfully, the separation was brief but it meant that Kate understood when Pippa later had romantic disappointments of her own. And now, as the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate is ready again to play a supporting role – this time as her baby sister happily walks down the aisle.