May 21, 2017
ENGLEFIELD, England (AP) — Two likely future British kings were there, along with one of the world’s most photographed women, the often-adorable Prince Harry, a multilingual tennis legend and a brash TV reality star.
But all eyes were on Pippa Middleton on Saturday as she walked down the aisle of a 12th-century church wearing a custom hand-embroidered gown with a tiara and long veil to marry hedge fund manager James Matthews.
Reporters, photographers and camera crews invaded the small village of Englefield west of London, home to St. Mark’s Church, and nearby Bucklebury, where a lavish reception was being held Saturday night at the estate of the bride’s parents, Michael and Carole Middleton.
Middleton, 33, is not royalty. But the star-studded wedding took on some aspects of a royal wedding, with well-wishers gathering outside the church grounds hoping for a glimpse. She arrived in a vintage Jaguar to enter the church on the arm of her father. Older sister Kate, also known as the Duchess of Cambridge, looked after the page boys and bridesmaids, who were all under five years old and included her own children, Prince George, 3, and Princess Charlotte, 2.
Prince William and Prince Harry, decked out in formal morning suits, seemed relaxed as they strolled into the church and were greeted by the groom’s well-known brother, Spencer Matthews, a star on the TV show “Made in Chelsea.”
Matthews, 41, smiled broadly and sported elegant formal wear set off by a pale blue vest. The new couple emerged from the church an hour later. The children dropped flower petals in their path before the couple celebrated their union with a kiss. Then it was off for champagne and, later, a short spin in a different Jaguar.
Ingrid Seward, editor of Majesty Magazine, said the Middletons could take pleasure in the day: Their first daughter, Kate, had married a future king, and their second daughter, Pippa, had married an extremely wealthy, charming and handsome man.
“You can’t do better than that,” she said. Matthew and Pippa briefly dated in 2012 but became serious last year. He proposed during a visit to the enchanting Lake District, setting in motion what is being called the society wedding of the year.
The wedding plan was not without risks — including having such young children in the wedding party. But George and Charlotte — and the rest of the page boys and bridesmaids — did extremely well in public, winning hearts along the way in their custom-made outfits.
Roger Federer and his wife Mirka were among the guests. Pippa had kept the identity of her wedding designer a secret until she stepped out wearing a fitted, dramatic frock by English designer Giles Deacon.
The dress had a high neckline and a corseted bodice, with draping to the front and a heart-shaped detail in the back. Deacon said the lace bodice was embroidered with pearl details over a layered organza-and-tulle underskirt.
“It was a privilege to show the craftsmanship that my team produces in London and a real testament to Pippa’s support of British fashion,” he said. Kate, so often the center of attention as she performs her royal duties or poses for the cover of Vogue, gracefully ceded the spotlight to her younger sister. The Duchess of Cambridge wore a long-sleeved, blush pink Alexander McQueen dress.
She focused on making sure the young page boys and bridesmaids behaved, once raising her finger to shush the rambunctious youngsters. Harry did not bring his girlfriend, American actress Meghan Markle, to the crowded church ceremony. She may attend the private reception.
The bride’s parents built an elaborate glass marquee on their estate in Bucklebury for the reception and guests were advised to bring two outfits so they could change after the wedding ceremony. The airspace above both villages was closed to prevent intrusive press crews from flying overhead or launching drones to get video footage.
Middleton was relatively unknown until her figure-hugging bridesmaid gown attracted attention at the 2011 royal wedding of Kate and Prince William. That sparked completely unfounded rumors that she was dating Prince Harry.
She has written a book about entertaining and columns for Vanity Fair while also working at her parents’ lucrative “Party Pieces” business.