Here come’s the bride
If your invite got lost in the post, grab your hat because we're going. Here's the gawpers guide to James and Pippa's big day
This weekend, Saturday 20 May, Her Royal Hotness is getting hitched to hedge fund manager James Matthews (big brother to Made In Chelsea star Spencer Matthews). Not that you would notice, it’s a quiet country affair, no fuss, just a little get together for closest friends and family. NOT!
Surrey’s neighbouring county, Berkshire, has gone Middleton mad. West Berkshire is swarming with paparazzi, journos and, of course, actual wedding guests. The county has gone a little cra-a-azy – peaking over hedges for a glimpse of the wedding preparations (*cough* that’ll be me) reporting on the delivery of the posh Portaloos, the comings and goings of floristry vans and the slightest hint of a clothing bag. But let’s be honest, we’re all getting a little giddy (although I have had a few glasses of bubbles to toast the happy couple) thinking about Pippa’s bridal gown.
Giles Deacon is the designer, rumour has it Pippa’s had at least five fittings to ensure her perfectly pert bottom will be looking peachy keen on the big day. Whether this is down to pre-wedding weight loss, or simply wanting the dress to be perfect (der, obviously), five fittings does seem a lot. But good on her. All eyes and camera lenses will be on the bride and the images will be going round the world in a social media frenzy.
The wedding ceremony is taking place at 11.30am at St Mark’s Church Englefield, Berkshire. It’s on Conservative parliamentary candidate Richard Benyon’s mahoosive Englefield Estate, so you’re not going to get the chance to slip through the door and take a pew at the back. Especially when there’s likely to be 350 guests to shoe horn in and the only access road will be closed to the public from 7pm on Friday to 6pm Saturday.
Afterwards, a reception will be held at Carole and Michael Middleton’s home, Bucklebury Manor, a Grade II-listed house with lots of grounds and spectacular views. The marquee is something else (only the blingy best for Pip). Shipped over from Belgium and made of panels of glass – it looks like Kew Gardens! But with a thunder storm due, the reception could be interesting when you’re partying in a glorified greenhouse. Guaranteed to be more than a few muddy stilettos at this bash.
We’ll be trying to catch a glimpse of flower girl Princess Charlotte, pageboy Prince George, Kate and William (of course), but all eyes will be on Prince Harry and the new royal squeeze Meghan Markle. She’s officially invited but it’s unconfirmed if she will attend the church service for fear of upstaging the bride – awkward. MIC star Spencer Matthews is best man and lots of double-barrelled posh pals will make up the guest list.
Eyes on the prize
If you’re wanting to rock up at the church, you’re unlikely to get anywhere near the action. Guests are being taxied in by a fleet of Land Rovers (nice to see the Chelsea tractor get a bit of branding in), the press will have their pen and then there’s the hired help. But but but… there are plenty of places you might just get a goose gander.
1. Englefield Garden Centre is next to the 12th Century Englefield Church. The perfect spot to get your peepers on a few posh frocks and if you’re lucky the bride and groom. Bring a picnic and a bottle prosecco, park up in the greenhouse, and imagine you’re a guest at the reception (JOKE).
2. Loiter around The Bladebone or The Blackbird Cafe from 10.30am and you’re get a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it shot of guests heading off to Englefield. It’s a six-mile drive from the Middleton’s home and they’re most likely to head down The Avenue (past their old Chapel Row gaff) to get Pippa to the church on time. The good news there’ll be coffee on tap and the pub opens at 11am. It would be rude not to raise a glass. Better still, settle in and stay for a cracking pub lunch.
3. Bucklebury Farm Park – if you have kids or need to borrow some for the day, this family attraction is a stone’s throw from Bucklebury Manor and Prince George and Princess Charlotte have been known to hang out. The tractor ride through the deer park gives you the best vantage point, but if I’m honest you’re more likely to hear the party than see it. That said, you’ll have a good spot for the Spitfire fly-by they’ve organised to wow the guests. So buckle, earn a gold star with the kids and crane to see/ hear/ smell the reception action. Desperate times, desperate measures, granted.
4. Want to party with the wedding party? Your best chance will be the night before the ‘I Dos’. With the service starting at 11.30am, a lot of folk will stay nearby. It’s dangerous. Your squad’s back together, weekend of partying, some will be kiddie-free. We’ve all been there, pre-wedding party trumps the reception Unlikely in this instance as Mr Middleton’s forking out an eye-watering £330,000. He’s going to need to shift a lot of paper plates and balloons to pay for that lot. My two hot spots? The Royal Oak Yattendon. The Middletons are regulars and Prince Harry’s been known to pop in for a pint. It’s a real showbiz, royal, aristo favourite. The Pot Kiln, Frilsham, is hot with the hunting, shooting and fishing crowd. Kate and William and the Middletons have eaten here a lot over the years. The Old Boot in Stanford Dingley is a wild card. The Middletons hang out here too, but you’re more likely to be propping up the bar with American tourists than be do shots with Spencer Matthews.
If you see anything good, get on the Muddy hotline… I’m just off to the Post Office to see if my invite got lost in the back room.