We don't often see candid photos of the Duchess these days, so it was something of a surprise when I checked Twitter and saw photos of William and Kate arriving at the Kensington home of Pippa Middleton's fiance James Matthews. It's hard to believe it's just seven weeks until the big day (20 May) and the evening provided the perfect opportunity for the Cambridges to meet James's parents David Matthews and Jane Parker on Thursday night. You can view several photos on the Mail Online.
The get together was also attended by James Middleton and James Matthews' brother, reality television personality Spencer Matthews (those in the UK will likely be familiar with his various television appearances on the likes of Made in Chelsea...). It's obviously an incredibly exciting time for Pippa and James, who likely planned the evening to chat about the big day with their siblings and ensure everyone was well acquainted ahead of the event.
'With her own big day just seven weeks away, the bride-to-be hosted a pre-wedding summit to introduce sister Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, and husband Prince William to future in-laws David Matthews and Jane Parker.Perhaps mindful the Royal couple enjoyed their own nuptials in the glare of worldwide publicity just six years ago, Pippa was also keen to pick up some tips. The Cambridges arrived for dinner on Thursday night at the £17 million West London home Pippa shares with her hedge fund fiance James Matthews.'
James and Pippa's engagement was confirmed in July with a statement from Michael Middleton who said he and Carole were "absolutely thrilled". He continued: "They make a wonderful couple and we wish them every happiness together." Kensington Palace followed with: "The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are absolutely delighted." James Matthews is the co-founder of Eden Rock Capital Management Group, an investment advisory firm with expertise in credit and structured finance. The financier serves as the company's chief executive officer. His parents bought the luxury Eden Rock hotel in St Barts in 1995, and it is currently one of the top 100 hotels in the world. He and Pippa have known each other for years and are said to have bonded over their love of outdoor pursuits and challenges.
The ceremony itself will take place at nearby St Mark's Church (where the Cambridges and Middletons attended Christmas Day service) with a reception for 150 planned at the Middletons' home in Bucklebury afterwards. It is thought George and Charlotte will play a role in the ceremony. Kate left carrying a white package - quite possibly fabric or plans for George and Charlotte's outfits.
Kate and Pippa enjoy a very special bond. Pippa was by Kate's side every step of the way in the run up to and during the royal wedding in 2011. Six years later, the Duchess will obviously be returning the favour and I imagine is very much involved in helping with planning and preparations. As we previously discussed the general consensus is Kate will not serve as matron of honour. Royal commentator Victoria Arbiter noted on Twitter it is "not so much about protocol more Kate wouldn't want to upstage the bride & in some circles married women aren't bridesmaids".
Back to the Mail Online article for more on Pippa's choice of designer for the wedding:
'Swimwear designer Melissa Odabash, who has designed a special bikini for Pippa, says Pippa and James will head to the family’s Caribbean resort for a pre-wedding honeymoon so they can top up their tans ahead of the May 20 wedding. Pippa is determined to keep the name of her wedding dress designer top secret. However, Giles Deacon sparked speculation when he was seen leaving the townhouse carrying dress bags in November.'
Meanwhile The Sun reports Kate enjoyed a skiing hen weekend for Pippa, the same weekend William was in Verbier - about 100 miles away. More from the article:
'The Duchess of Cambridge went on sister Pippa’s secret skiing hen do — on the same weekend husband Wills was away partying with his pals in the Alps. The two groups even shared the same private jet as they hit the slopes last month. But while the Duke’s gang headed for Verbier in Switzerland, Kate and Pippa were around 100 miles away in Meribel, France.
A friend told The Sun: “Pippa loves skiing so it was her first choice for a hen weekend. “They stayed in a really exclusive catered chalet with maids and chef, who ensured that they were totally spoilt. The private jet was paid for by the Middletons ahead of 33-year-old Pippa’s wedding next month to tycoon James Matthews, 41.
Wills and his group returned to the UK later that day with Kate, 35, Pippa and her hen party. Meribel is a favourite resort for the Middletons. Wills and Kate skied there together in 2010 and 2012.'
It's always a treat to see Kate 'off-duty' style and her chic look was very much reminiscent of her pre-wedding style with the print dress, heels and hair worn in a casual ponytail. The dress proved a challenge to identify but the eagle-eyed Middleton Maven believes the Somerset by Temperley Peony Off The Shoulder Dress is a right match. The £99 dress from Alice Temperley's diffusion line for John Lewis is described as "Channel a chic bohemian vibe in this Somerset by Alice Temperley dress. Decorated in an all-over floral pattern, this dress features an on-trend off-the-shoulder design, a nipped-in waist that flatters the figure and a flowing midi skirt." It's available in limited sizes at John Lewis.
The dress looks quite different on Kate as she opted to pull the shoulders up instead of wearing the 'off-the-shoulder' style. A closer look at the print.
Other pieces in the collection with the same print include the Peony Tie Neck Shirt which is described as "The long tie neck ensures graceful detail whilst the all-over floral pattern adds plenty of vibrancy in a high-impact look whilst pleated cuffs and shoulders create the perfect amount of volume." We also see the matching midi skirt.
We'll see you Tuesday!