Before Kate Middleton married Prince William, most of the world had never heard of the small internet-based party supply store owned by her parents, Mike and Carole Middleton. The same was true of her unruly sister, Pippa Middleton, whose fame launched on the day of the Royal Wedding. Now that the Middletons are royally connected, an advantageous spotlight has been shown on them, and they appear to be happily embracing it. But that’s at the very least, according to some, who believe the Middleton family is milking Kate’s new status for all it’s worth and are dishonorably cashing in on it.
Celebrating Kate? They’ve got the goods!
Eyebrows were raised when Mike and Carole used their business, Party Pieces, to sell street party favors for the Royal Wedding. Now, they are selling paraphernalia for celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, which they boldly advertise on the homepage of the Party Pieces website.
On One Hand…
It is completely natural for a party supplier to offer paraphernalia for occasions like the Royal Wedding and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Mike and Carole have a business to promote, and it could potentially hurt it to leave these products out when other party supply stores are offering them. If William and Kate had never met or married, there’s a chance they’d be selling these products anyway. Unlike their daughter, they still have to support themselves. Should they have to miss out on the profits from these themed goods just because Kate married a Royal?
But On the Other Hand…
It isn’t that simple. William did meet Kate, and they did marry – and because of that, the Middleton’s business has moved into the spotlight along with them (and that means a lot of free advertising, at the very least). Actually, without their daughter marrying into the Firm, Party Pieces, with its nonessential goods, could have very well perished along with the countless other businesses that closed due to the poor economy. Regardless, it’s incredibly difficult to imagine that the potential losses of omitting the street party and Jubilee favors would exceed or even match the value of the exposure and likely profits gained due to their royal association. The cost to purchase advertising equivalent to the free exposure they’ve received for Party Pieces has to be worth a mind-boggling amount all on its own.
Mike and Carole have every right to try and make their business as successful as possible, and with Kate’s new status, they probably couldn’t have avoided some of the exposure if they tried. However, by offering products specifically for use in events their royal daughter is involved in, they are creating controversy which draws even more attention to their business. Unless they all live under a rock, they surely must know that. First of all, they would have to be incredibly dense to have thought that no one would notice them selling street party goods just before the Royal Wedding, and that no one would view it as a conflict of interest. Even if they’re only as smart as their duchess daughter seems and truly were oblivious, the flood of press coverage they stirred in that instance showed them that Kate-related products get Party Pieces into the press. With that, they have chosen to repeat the situation by selling the Diamond Jubilee supplies. They may not be getting very flattering press through this, but you know what they say: “Any press is good press,” when you’ve got something to promote.
With these choices, the Middletons appear to be cashing in on Kate’s fame and royal status. Their family has been so fortunate this past year, and selling the products in question rightfully comes across as one tacky, exploitative, and dishonorable step too far.
Pippa’s pursuits only worsen the family’s reputation for gold-digging. For one thing, she’s been following in Kate’s footsteps by dating men who far exceed her own social and financial status. This behavior lends support to the notion that Kate meeting William was based on Middleton family social ambitions rather than chance. Additionally, Pippa has not been shy about making six-figure lemonade out of the golden lemons that have fallen into her undeserving lap: She wasted far less time than Kate in starting her solo career by signing a $630,000+ (£400,000) book deal in November for a party planning guide she is supposedly writing herself (1).
On One Hand…
Like her parents, Pippa has every right to pursue wealth and success in her life, and to seize opportunities that help her accomplish her goals.
But On the Other Hand…
Pippa is clearly riding Kate’s coat-dress tails. Based on her own merit and without her royal connection, the world media and its audiences wouldn’t know or care who Pippa Middleton is. Has she gotten her book deal because she’s an exceptional, experienced author? -No. Has she gotten it because she’s extremely sought after – a leader – in the event planning world? -No. Has she gotten it because she’s built an impressive event-planning empire? Does she have an exceptional record for putting together impeccable high-profile events? -No, and no. Obviously, Pippa would not have this book deal if she wasn’t Kate Middleton’s sister. Plain and simple. Not to mention, the book’s topic, party planning, will be indirect, yet further, promotion for Party Pieces. Overall, the deal itself (stemming from her sister’s connections) and the party planning topic (stemming from the influence of her parents and their business, no doubt) reveal Pippa as anything but and independently successful person. Mike and Carole may have built a business from the ground up, but their children don’t seem to value or be capable of anything but piggybacking on others.
Pippa may pocket a large sum of money from her book and other potential opportunities, but getting ahead this way isn’t respectable. If she’s passionate about event planning, for instance, then she should learn everything she can about it, develop her work and strive to achieve an outstanding reputation in the field through her achievements, or even start her own business. After doing that successfully, then she could write a book worthy of respect. But instead, she’s an amateur at best, creating a guide she isn’t qualified to assemble and taking advantage of an opportunity she hasn’t fully earned and doesn’t deserve.
The Double-Edged Sword
Overall, the Middletons are not wrong for taking advantage of their new prospects. The world is not a fair place after all, and many people enjoy unmerited advantages based on luck of the draw, unsavory endeavors, family and social connections, or other circumstances. The entire Royal Family is an excellent set of examples. However, the spotlight from Kate’s advantageous marriage is a double-edged sword for the Middletons. It may be fattening their wallets, but having so many eyes on them makes their reputations – including Kate’s – more vulnerable. By reaping the benefits of royally good fortune rather than earning it as they would have to without their royal connection, they show a high lack of dignity. And, as an apple can only fall so far from its tree, their unscrupulous choices have the potential to reflect very poorly on England’s future queen consort.
(1) Hall, James. “Pippa Middleton in ‘£400,000′ book deal.” The Telegraph. 11/27/2011.
© Enclave 24, March 3, 2012