Pippa Middleton

All it took was one slinky Alexander McQueen dress and the cool demeanour that's synonymous with the Middleton name. When her elder sister married a Prince in the wedding of the century, Pippa Middleton was rocketed to international fame, becoming the world's most famous bridesmaid.

Cut from the same cloth and with similar striking looks as Kate Middleton and their mother Carole, the party planner took the attention in her stride – while admitting: “It is a bit startling to achieve global recognition (if that’s the right word) on account of your sister, your brother-in-law and your bottom."

Born September 6, 1983, Philippa Charlotte Middleton was the second of Carole and her husband Michael's three children.

Like her sister the Berkshire lass attended the prestigious Marlborough College, where she was popular pupil who excelled at sport. She then followed Kate to higher education in Scotland, with an English degree from Edinburgh University.

There, Pippa formed many of her own high society connections. During her student days, her housemates were George Percy, the heir to the Duke of Northumberland, and Edward Innes-Ker, the son of the Duke of Roxburghe.

On the London social scene the striking brunette had a similar impact. In 2008, Tatler magazine named Pippa 'Number 1 Society Singleton'.

Her sister's engagement brought a whole new level of interest. Commentators even argued that on the basis of that four-minute walk in Westminster Abbey she was the more fortunate sibling, with access to all the best designers and parties – but without the scrutiny.

Certainly the royal bridesmaid appeared to be living a charmed life. Her new profile enabled her to secure a reported £400,000 book deal and columns with Vanity Fair, The Spectator and Waitrose's in-house magazine.

There were seats in the royal box at Wimbledon, invites to Palace parties and a place in the royal flotilla during the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

Sir David Frost summed up her appeal, saying: "She is a lovely young women, very witty and can hold her own in all kinds of conversation."

Yet there were very tangible drawbacks. When Pippa attended a masked ball in Paris, the behaviour of her friends caused a furore.

Following the soiree, one aimed a fake gun at the paparazzi who by now were a constant presence. It looked real enough to cause consternation and her host Viscount Arthur de Soultrait apologised.

The hullabalou is said to put paid to her relationship with city trader and former England cricketer Alex Loudon.

There was also sniping about her book Celebrate, a tome on entertaining. It was packed with snippets about growing up Middleton, including the revelation that their father Michael loves to surprise the family in fancy dress at Christmas, on one occasion dressing up in an inflatable sumo outfit.

Pippa navigated her newfound fame with grace and good humour.

Writing in one of her columns she referred to a spoof twitter account that sent her up called @pippatips, then cheekily suggested: "Maybe I should write a sequel and call it Bottoms Up? Now that could be a bestseller."

Poking fun at the family reputation for perfection, Pippa also challenged London Mayor Boris Johnson to a game of ping pong, adding: "I'm told the Johnsons are almost as competitive as the Middletons.

Meanwhile, her love life entered calmer waters. She began a passionate romance with Nico Jackson, a blue-eyed stockbroker with Deutsche Bank, six years her senior.

A friend told the Daily Mail he was "funny, sharp, oozes charm and never loses his cool. I think he’s very ambitious but he wears it lightly." Could it be that Pippa had also found her own Prince Charming?
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