Hum… This will be very long! You have been warned.

So after I read this article at buffalonews (which is everything but flattering for both parties involved), I remembered a friend had sent me an article in summer, when the engagement was still some ways off.

I have dug around the interwebs a bit for it to find a link, but all I could find were a few references to Sunday Times Magazine and forum discussions featuring quotes. The Sunday Times website will only give you access if you’re a subscriber, so if any of you are, here is the link. For everyone else, here is the feature in full. Don’t say you haven’t been warned about length.

Kate Middleton: why is she still the princess in waiting?

by Camilla Long

 

She’s done her training, stopped partying and cleared her diary. So
how long must Kate Middleton wait in silence for William to propose?

Not much of an ivory tower, Oak Acre. A flash five-bedroom house in a
pretty, vacant village just outside Reading, the Middleton mothership
— home to Carole, Michael, Pippa, James and Kate — could easily be any
other commuter-belt barn, with its pale gravel and a turquoise leisure
wing. Outside, poshos doss and drink; the odd Ferrari beams past.
Inside, Kate waits, surfing the web or shuffling snaps, changing
occasionally for tennis or tea: cat’s cradle and crochet for today’s
princess-in-waiting.

After all, there’s nothing much else to do here in Bucklebury, Berks —
no pubs, no shops, no cute beauty stops — so the world’s most famous
girlfriend just sits and waits, locked away behind a curtain of
forest, shrouded, cloaked, with the result that nearly 10 years on,
she remains as much of a mystery as the first time we saw her, snapped
on the streets of St Andrews, Prince William in one hand and a Tesco
bag in the other. So enigmatic, in fact, that “I always imagine
they’re already secretly engaged,” says Catherine Ostler, the editor
of Tatler magazine. “They look happy and calm. Besides, he should.
She’s done her training. She’s not a threat, she’s not a career girl,
she’s not a party girl.” And given that she’s not a princess yet
either, Kate Middleton is… what? A cool, dark anti-Diana, the
wholesome keeper of their student days? Or the gurning Liz Hurley
tribute act of later years? Or something more striking altogether: a
glinty, flinty, social climber, the ultimate manifestation of the
royals’ Tupperware tastes?

Certainly, she’s no Camilla, though the fact that she has kept William
entertained for nearly a decade says something for her abilities as a
royal mistress. Nor, indeed, is she a Sophie Rhys-Jones, a woman who
once actually had a job. Nor, either, the sloppy Sloane Fergie — and
the only way she remotely resembles Diana is a growing interest in
fashion and image. In December 2006, the bright-red coat she wore for
William’s passing-out parade at Sandhurst was a first blaze of
sartorial confidence that cleverly confirmed her status as
girlfriend-en-titre.

Increasingly gagged by her lawyers Kate has now reached the absurd
position of not being able to utter a word to the press But, unlike
Diana — an awkward, pop-obsessed, teen basket-case pushed into a
quick, loveless marriage — Kate was someone else that day. With her
steady gaze and vulnerable royal prince, she seemed more like the
Queen Mother surveying the Blitz.

Only this time the wreckage was that of the the royal family itself.
After Diana and Fergs, Camilla and Charles, toes, tampons, tycoons and
Texans, this stable brunette faced raising the old, cold royal family
from the ashes of dread, dreary protocol and misguided matches. Never
mind if she was crashingly middle-class, a clingy, workshy nonentity
whose family had been boring since the early-12th century. This steely
reformed scruffpot was now an impeccable piece of arm candy for the
budding prince.

By the end of the year, Woolworths had launched a set of commemorative
mugs, thimbles and mousemats in anticipation of an imminent
announcement. But then — nothing. Four years on, the situation remains
the same. The plates have been scraped. She waits, and we wait too.
Now the only stories about her begin with the word when? Even though
William has maintained that he doesn’t want to get married until 2011
at the earliest, an announcement has so far been predicted for October
2005, February 2006, December 2006, January 2007, June 2007, pretty
much the whole of 2008, “soon” (January 2009), August 2009, June 3 and
4, 2010. According to royal insiders, the latest reasoning for no
announcement appears to be that everyone is worried that the
89-year-old Duke of Edinburgh might die, an event that would require a
year’s mourning and fudge even the most tentative of wedding plans.

So still Kate waits. Increasingly gagged by her lawyers — there were
rumours she even signed a confidentiality agreement in 2007 — Kate has
now reached the absurd position of not being able to utter a word to
the press, either to confirm or deny the engagement rumours, nor even
to tell the world how much she loves her boyfriend.

In return for this, Clarence House has not even acknowledged her as a
girlfriend yet. “They will only break their silence when there is an
official announcement,” says a Buckingham Palace spokesman.

Still, there’s no turning back now, and even if there were, Kate would
be instantly stopped by her mother — Carole, the natty-hatted former
trolley dolly who once chewed gum at Sandhurst. Somewhere between
Gillian Taylforth and Mrs Bennet, this sharp 55-year-old “coal-miner’s
daughter” has quickly become an unfortunate flashpoint for Kate-haters
— a hard, pushy turbo-mum with an embarrassing brother and naff slips
of the tongue, who “cannot wait to book her facelift for the Abbey”,
gasps one royal observer. Friends from St Andrews, Pangbourne, the
mixed prep school Kate attended from the age of eight, are kinder,
remembering a constant, attentive presence who was indeed “pushy, but
not in an evil way”, says a contemporary. “She knew her children were
talented.”

Abandoning their jobs with British Airways, Carole and her husband,
Michael, a former pilot — variously described as “quiet and cautious”
and “absolutely ghastly” — invested right from the start.

Setting up the family firm Party Pieces, a mail-order party-supplies
company, in 1987, they made enough money to pay nearly £500,000 in
school fees, “generous allowances” for each child when they went to
university, an upgrade to the current pad in Bucklebury, and a £1m
flat in Chelsea. That’s a lot of filled party bags and piñatas.

And if not exactly spoilt, the young Middletons — James, Pippa and
Kate — have been certainly well looked after. To this day, Kate’s
fridge is “full of luxury food”; interviewed on the Party Pieces
website, the quiet 28-year-old brunette claimed her favourite memory
was “the amazing White Rabbit marshmallow cake Mummy made when I was
seven”. A contemporary at St Andrews remembers the Middleton
children’s parties as spectacular displays of one-upmanship, “the
best, with the top treats and latest gadgets — floating lanterns and,
when they were the thing, indoor fireworks. They were very tuned in”.

Kate, a tall, striking child, somewhat paler than she is now, was “the
kind of girl you’d have a crush on”, says another friend. “She wasn’t
particularly beautiful, but was always the tallest in the year, which
had a certain impact. She was a bit naughty, but mostly hard-working
and diligent. She was also a really good actress and always got the
lead in plays.” She was “perfect prefect material, should have been
head girl”, although in the event she didn’t get it.

Still, among the Emilys and the Ruths, the Fionas and the Sophies,
Kate quickly flourished. Relatively academic — “good at English and
drama and geography, but not a mathematician” — her real strength lay
on the field. A set of school photographs showed team shots of a
thrilled 12-year-old Kate on the hockey, tennis, netball, rounders and
swimming teams: a winning streak her mother encouraged. Carole “was
always at every single match”, says a friend from Marlborough, Kate’s
secondary school; to this day, Kate remains a total sports obsessive,
working out in the gym nearly every day and watching her weight with
care. When on holiday with William in Mustique, “there’s always quite
a lot of competitive booking of the tennis courts”, notes a friend. In
fact, she is such an avid tennis player she has even been photographed
playing tennis on Christmas Day with James and Pippa in jumpers and
scarves. (She sued — successfully.)

Kate Middleton makes a splash in a now infamous teeny white bikini in
Ibiza in 2006 (Solarpix) Another friend attributes Kate’s thinness to
“not eating so much. She’s never had an eating problem; she’s just
extremely disciplined”. She sticks to “beans, salads, salmon and
barbecues”. Since William installed a gym at Clarence House, she
slimmed down further to a size six, although this is apparently mostly
due to “stress”, says the friend. “Unhappy to be living at home with
the parents at 28, not with Will, having dated him for nine years.
Actually, she’s f***ing skinny. Wedding-dress skinny.”

The upside of this new-found thinness is that for the first time in
Kate’s life “she is now thinner than Pip”. As girls, “there was always
a kind of feeling — oh, Kate’s not as thin as Pip”. In fact, Kate’s
rivalry with her younger sister, Pippa, an events manager at the
London party-catering firm Table Talk, seems to have been a key
influence on their childhood. “Like most sisters, they were and are
hugely competitive,” remembers Emma Sayle, a former pupil at Downe
House who met Kate when she joined The Sisterhood, a group of 70 girls
who raise money for charity by doing extreme physical challenges.
Kate’s fitness levels, she noted, were “extremely high”. “They would
always double up for tennis matches at school. There was always that
thing, who could be the thinnest and who could be the prettiest.”

Right from the start, “perfect Pip” appears to have won. A smaller,
darker version of her sister — “Pippa’s a real fox,” says Ostler,
whose magazine named the younger half of the “wisteria sisters” as
being “highly fragrant, terribly decorative, and with a ferocious
ability to climb” — she was the most eligible bachelorette of 2008.
Whether or not Carole encouraged competition between the sisters is a
matter for debate; certainly, years later, when Pippa was at Edinburgh
University and Kate was already dating the heir to the throne, she was
delighted that Pip had managed to get a flat with “two such nice boys”
— the two boys being George Percy, Earl Percy, the eldest son of the
Duke of Northumberland, and Lord Ted Innes-Ker, the second son of the
Duke of Roxburghe.

The boys at Marlborough College were rather unkind to the shy, square
girl who preferred to be called Catherine The youngest Middleton,
James, an affable type who now runs a cake company selling
make-your-own cakes, including a “dancing-fairies cake” and a “handbag
cake”, does not seem to have been afflicted by the Middleton ambition.

But pressure to perform sometimes overwhelmed the girls. Leaving St
Andrews, Kate was sent to Downe House, an all-girls boarding school,
where she encountered “an oestrogen hothouse”, says a contemporary.
“First team and getting straight-As was what you aspired to. It didn’t
suit the shy, retiring type.” And though Kate wasn’t exactly shy, she
wasn’t an alpha-bitch, either. Among the more sophisticated Alicias
and Mirandas, she “became very unhappy and got a little bit bullied”.
Actually, she probably got bullied enough to leave in the middle of
the year.

Arriving, at 14, at Marlborough, a less academic mixed boarding school
in Wiltshire, she was “jokingly called Middlebum”, says Gemma
Williamson, a fellow Marlburian, for arriving halfway through the
year. Here, too, she was “shy and unremarkable”; when her younger
sister arrived a couple of years later, “she found herself rather
eclipsed”. “Pippa got onto the hockey team almost immediately,”
recalls a boy in the same year as Kate.

“She was a fantastic player, smaller, faster and more athletic.”
Joining Kate in Elmhurst, a sporty all-girls house at Marlborough, he
says he “can’t remember any specific competition between the two, but
girl stuff wasn’t on my radar. All we cared about was what they might
look like with their clothes off”.

Here, too, Kate suffered. The boys at Marlborough were rather unkind
to the shy, square girl who preferred to be called Catherine, rating
her poorly in their “marks-out-of-10” games. One day, however, she
decided to ditch the scruffy-schoolgirl act and smarten up. Carole
stepped in; when Kate returned to school the following September, the
thin, stringy hockey freak had been replaced with a nascent Sloane
swan. Kate became “very hot overnight”; today, she still maintains an
obsessive grooming routine. “Both Kate and Pippa take a heck of a long
time getting ready,” says a friend. Kate’s assiduously kohl-rimmed
“party eyes” and regular blow-dries now mean she is almost permanently
camera-ready.

Clearly enjoying her new-found sexual power, Kate quickly became “the
type of girl to go for the top guy”, remembers a school friend. “I
used to love hanging out with her because the boys she liked were
always so attractive.” Who Kate actually dated at Marlborough remains
a bit of a mystery, however. Not because people won’t speak — everyone
has a stab — but actually, nobody can quite remember.

I try Facebooking a series of hot, polite, thick ex-Marlburians to
find out more about “the Hugh” Kate might have been out with. “Hugh
doesn’t narrow it down, you see,” says one. “There were about five in
our year.” Another gasps: “Honestly, she was a prefect type, he was a
prefect type, I can’t for the life of me remember.” Yet another
suggests a boy called Harry Lawson-Johnston: “But I don’t think he
went to Marlborough, and she only dated boys from school…” There was
one pre-William boyfriend: Rupert Finch, a “handsome Norfolk boy” whom
Kate met when she arrived at St Andrews. With a clutch of 11 GCSEs and
three A-Levels, she had managed to get herself on to the
history-of-art course — the same as Prince William, but in the event
the first boy she fell for was Finch.

That Kate had a crush on the prince long before she met him is almost
certainly the case: she had a poster of him on her wall at
Marlborough. Rumour has it she wanted to go to Edinburgh but the canny
Carole dissuaded her. Whether or not she applied specifically to meet
him, she would have met him eventually. “St Andrews is the size of a
peanut,” says a contemporary. But the fact that she was randomly
assigned to St Salvator’s, the same hall of residence as William, was
a big stroke of luck.

Once in, she instantly became the prime focus for the “Sally boys”.
“Kate was very much the prettiest girl on campus,” says a boy who was
at St Andrews with them both, “although obviously that wasn’t
difficult at St Andrews.” When it came to William, however, there was:
he was already dating the blonde Olivia Hunt (“a brainy sort with
size-10 feet”, reported Tatler). Kate resolved the issue by dismissing
Finch and stripping to her knickers for the St Andrews fashion show —
a haughty turn in a tiny bikini that immediately caught William’s eye.
Hunt was dumped and parcelled out to a friend, William van Cutsem. “A
royal ex-girlfriend will often end up going out with a friend — a
convenient way of keeping things in the family,” says a contemporary
from St Andrews. “Carly Massy-Birch, for example, a girl at St Andrews
who William had a two-week snog with, ended up going out with Tolly
[James Tollemache], one of his closest friends.”

And when it came to choosing a girlfriend for himself, “keeping things
in the family” was a primary concern for the cautious William. “Kate
has learnt a lot from Diana,” says Ostler, “but actually, William has
learnt a lot more. We want a celebrity princess, he wants kindness and
good humour. We want glamour, he wants discretion. So what if she’s
dull? From his point of view, that’s good.” Anyone who “put it about”
— verbally, obviously, rather than sexually — was instantly dropped.
For William, discretion was, and is, paramount: he has been known to
place false stories with friends to detect leaks.

So by the start of their second year at St Andrews, Kate had quietly
insinuated herself to the position of girlfriend-en-titre, and an
increasingly important figure in William’s close-knit set — or to be
precise, his ragbag of braying junior buffers, immediately
identifiable by their uniform of jeans, loafers and open-necked shirts
— “like they strolled off the King’s Road circa 1984”, observed one
magazine — and key to understanding the very conservative young
prince.

Old Etonian friends such as James “Badger” Meade, Tom van Straubenzee
and Fergus Boyd are the ultimate herd animals. For them, “a vow of
silence and loyalty is more important than a personality”.

Only Badger is allowed to tease the heir to the throne about his bald
patch; to be in Wills’s gang, you must also be a “terrible dancer”,
“above fashion” — though obviously they might mean “beyond the help
of” — but above all, “a good horseman or woman; there’s a feeling
riding skills translate into the bedroom”.

And in spite of not having a title, being called “Mushy”, or “Toosie”,
or even liking horses — she has a well-documented allergy — Kate
quickly fitted in. Studiously ignoring her new boyfriend’s bovine
sense of humour — he and his chums refer to each other as “Stinker” —
and the fact that he “rather enjoys toying with people who want to be
his friend”, she sensed that William would be turned off by a patsy,
so initially she played it cool. Another contemporary confirms the
positive effect of this approach: a policy of routinely blanking the
prince actually meant that “by the third year, he was coming up to me
and harassing me instead”.

Still, the 20-year-old William must have presented Kate with something
of a challenge: a large, untrained golden retriever puppy with issues.
At first she tackled matters by mothering him. Moving into the
“uber-Sloaney” Hope Street with William and Fergus Boyd for their
second year, followed by a farmhouse on a nearby estate for their
third and fourth, Kate “cooked William dinner every single evening”,
says a friend. “He basically couldn’t live without her.”

In Kate, William had found the ultimate shoulder to cry on. Even if
his friends whispered “doors to manual” — a reference to Carole
Middleton’s air-hostess past — William himself “is totally not a
snob”, says a friend from St Andrews. “He snogged Carly Massy-Birch,
and I think she even went to state school.”

Kate in the days before she weaned William off clubs and onto cosy
dinners a deux (Xposure) Besides, who needs toffs? Centuries of
foreign blood have made the royal family short, dark, twitchy and
petulant — yet somehow still bad at fashion and chitchat. Diana
brought a beautiful, blonde Britishness; Kate will bring some
much-needed quiet — the latest in a new breed of vanilla royal
consorts, the marketing consultants and TV presenters preferred by
Denmark, Spain and Norway. “I think William’s quite clever in that
he’s gone for someone who just won’t be embarrassing,” says Ostler.
“He’s an ordinary guy in an extraordinary position, a Sloane who’s in
the army. Wouldn’t you marry a girl from Jigsaw?”

Kate, too, is the kind of girl to “marry an H” — an H being a Hugh or
a Harry (or, obviously, an HRH). To this day, she’s a girl with little
or no concern about her career. For many, the fact that she apparently
does nothing all day long apart from comb her hair and think about
placements and tablewear is her greatest shortcoming. But like it or
not, she was a professional wife from the start: happy to cook and
make nice conversation, play tennis “but not in a frightening way”,
tirelessly picking up his dirty shorts after games of rugby with
“minor public-school rugger buggers who William played seven aside
with, who referred to themselves as the Bratpack”.

Unsurprisingly, her growing slavishness, plus the fact that she had
hit the jackpot (or the poisoned chalice, depending on how you look at
it), won her few friends among her female contemporaries. A girl in
her year remembers how Kate, variously described as “up herself” or,
more politely, “a very private person”, talked of moving in with other
girls at the beginning of their third year. “But we all knew it was a
tease,” she says. Bitchy conversations about “Midders” — “we all
called her that, but never to her face” — became the norm. As Ostler
puts it, “There’ll always be a lot of jealousy, hundreds of Heathfield
mothers annoyed that little Georgia isn’t in her position.”

Even for the Machiavellian young Kate, keeping the royal honker on
side was difficult at times The fact that the campus was also littered
with the previous victims of William’s “party hands” — Massy-Birch and
a girl called Rose Farquhar, among others — meant that Kate, however
much she liked to wind rivals up, still needed a strategy for dealing
with threats. She did this by “cleverly making friends with all the
ex-girlfriends”, says a friend. “

Like taking Bella Musgrave, who William snogged a few times, out to
Bluebird [in the King’s Road] for drinks.” But even for the
Machiavellian young Kate, keeping the royal honker on side was
difficult. At first, she calibrated the balance between entertaining
him but not overwhelming him with a resolve Diane de Poitiers would
have been proud of.

But when they broke up for the holidays in the summer of 2004, for the
first time the ultimate control freak lost control.

The prince, footloose and fancy-free, and without too much revision
before his geography finals, had already met Isabella
Anstruther-Gough-Calthorpe many years before at Eton’s Fourth of June
picnic. A creamy blonde dancer now dating Sir Richard Branson’s son,
Sam, she had been immediately linked to him in the press — but it
wasn’t until 2004 that he apparently managed to corner the attractive
young filly in the VIP room at Boujis.

A South Kensington nightclub that had the previous summer become the
social focus of Club H — a group of boys from Gloucestershire who hung
out with William and Harry at Highgrove — Boujis was a royal-friendly
playground where William could bellow, “C’mon chaps, let’s drink the
menu,” and show off his terrible dancing. That summer they downed
crack babies and went wild.

Kate was furious when she heard about the Calthorpe incident. For a
time, she tried to ignore him, but away on holiday, missing him and
flicking through the pages of Hello! — one day, a double issue would
be hers — she somehow brought herself to text the relationship with
“Stinker” back to life. She spent the holiday furiously tapping away;
soon they were an item again. But her trials were far from over.

Both leaving St Andrews with 2.1s, William entered the Household
Cavalry, while Kate found herself at the first of several very long,
loose ends. Away from the safety of university — a blanket press ban
meant the couple could almost totally relax there — she had to “face
London life”, says Ostler. “I don’t think she ever wavered, but that
transition must have been shocking.” Like Diana before her, she was
thrown into a world of screaming, scratching press attention. A
torrent of malicious sniping and speculation, harsh articles
“initially really hurt her”, says a friend. “There was a lot at the
start.”

At first, she turned to her mother and sister for help, and slowly
shut off from the venom. “Kate is quite a private person anyway, but
outwardly, she became much colder,” says a friend. Aware of the
increased attention, she started to polish up her image, too. Moving
into a flat near the King’s Road with an old friend from school, she
started a blow-dry routine at the Richard Ward salon in Chelsea, and
never left the house without proper make-up in place.

Her mother quickly updated her wardrobe, taking her on regular
shopping trips to Harvey Nichols and Peter Jones for sensible buys at
Jigsaw or LK Bennett. The friendship-braceleted, hair-wrap-wearing
student quickly evolved into a buffed and bouffant Chessex babe.
Kate’s emerging style — described by fashion writers as “elegant”,
“safe” or, more witheringly, “occasion-appropriate” — inspired a
fervent “Sloane revival”, a thirst for dressing like a young duchess
in cable-knit sweaters, pearls and “ladieswear”.

If Kate wore a Topshop dress, it immediately sold out; her elasticated
knee-high boots became a fetish object. People even began to wear
fascinators; like Diana before her, she had kick-started a phenomenon.
But then, too far? Her outfits became tedious; her smile tight. Her
wistful, monotonous appearances outside other Sloanes’ weddings were,
it was said, “because she rather enjoyed upstaging the bride”. There
were accusations of “too much make-up”; stories that she’d accepted
handbags for free. All media-connected friends were cut. A core of
girlfriends from school and university remained but, people snipped,
only because they were interested in “an invitation to the wedding —
or to become a lady-in-waiting”.

Still, she withdrew, ignoring Wills’s “other girls”, the seaweed
blondes and “civilian snogs”, and girls like the 18-year-old Brazilian
Ana Ferreira, who, meeting William away on manoeuvres (in a
Bournemouth nightclub), breathily reported: “I was a bit drunk but
felt something brush my breast… I thought it couldn’t be the future
king — but now I’ve seen the picture it’s no wonder he has a smile on
his face! He has big, manly hands and certainly knows what to do with
them.” Kate coolly weaned him off Boujis and magnums of champagne in
favour of dinners à deux and the odd premiere. Her own hard-partying
days — at university she founded a girls’ drinking society — were
traded in for prim sips of Jack and Coke.

Now little more than a stiff royal fembot waiting for activation, in
summer 2006 she went on holiday to Ibiza, where she was snapped
frolicking with Wills in a tiny white bikini. Seeing the pictures, and
perhaps concerned she was becoming little more than an upper-class
Wag, he suggested she find something more substantial to occupy her
time. John and Belle Robinson, owners of the fashion chain Jigsaw and
friends of the Middletons, who had lent their house in Mustique for
holidays with William, happily obliged and gave her a job. For three
days a week, Kate studied totes.

But then the whole thing fell dramatically apart. During a skiing
holiday in Zermatt, the couple suddenly split. According to a friend,
Kate was “gutted”; she looked drawn, sad and tired. Sayle, whose
friend Alicia Fox-Pitt had encouraged Kate to join them on the
dragon-boat challenge directly after the split, remembers a girl who
seemed “lost and unhappy, although she never spoke about William”.

Everyone blamed Carole, of course, for using words like “toilet” and
“pardon” in royal comp’nee, for being “middle-class” and “possibly
Jewish — her maiden name is Goldsmith”. But Mrs Meddleton had the last
laugh. Shoving her daughter back out there, she saw to it that “Kate
showed William what he was missing the very first night they split”,
says a friend. “That she could get men falling at her feet.”

Cue Kate rushing to Boujis for a “highly uncharacteristic”
nightclubbing rampage. She grabbed the nearest H and by dawn they were
“linked”. The plan worked. In a matter of months, Kate and Wills were
back on. Reconciling on the dancefloor at a Moulin Rouge-themed army
party, the future King and Queen of England enjoyed a passionate
clinch among the Ann Summers lingerie and the blow-up dolls, before
“disappearing into the prince’s private quarters”.

After the split, things had to change. Since 2007, William has been
“more devoted and loving”, says a friend. “In fact, whenever I see
them at parties together, he is almost sickeningly into her.” Kate
left Jigsaw at the end of 2007 to “focus on her relationship with
William”. Really, she just retreated to Bucklebury, where she now
keeps William’s “favourite sofa” warm, and works for the family firm,
listlessly photographing children’s parties for the website. She still
visits London when Wills is around — until 2013 he will be away a lot
with the RAF, leading to speculation that they will leave it until
then to marry — sometimes staying at the flat in Chelsea, which she
now shares with Pippa, or at Clarence House; recently she was given
keys. But mostly it’s polos and pensioners, parties and parades. Some
life. But I guess she’s ready for it now; moreover, “she’s proved
herself”, says Ostler. “Really, she’s a princess already.”

Even a big scandal cannot touch her now: in August 2009, Carole’s
dubious hinterland gave one last, bloated shudder when a tabloid
revealed that her older brother, Gary Goldsmith, was a fat drug fiend
living in Ibiza in a house called La Maison de Bang Bang. A former
computer whizz who dealt cocaine and fixed up tarts, he boasted that
he had called William a “f***er” when he arrived at the house on
holiday. Adding that he “wanted a speaking part” at the wedding, he
rolled a joint, saying: “Yeah. I’ll be giving her away. I’ll be the
Duke of Slough.” There was a polite titter before everyone asked:
“Yes, but does he know when they’re getting married?”

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