Are we detecting signs that the Middleton family don’t know how to behave?

A half-baked brother, some seamy connections, and high social ambitions may not be what we need  in a Royal princess. The Slog investigates.

Future Windsor inlaws….thoroughly modern money

If like me you loathe all the Royalty obsession and emotional bollocks that goes with the media/Windsors relationship, I beg you not to turn away from this article. Although I am a Royalist, I don’t think much to a Royal family which sets an awful example, and I regret the way in which the Windsors have listened to foolish advice about democratising the way they work. (I may be one of the few people who watched the movie The Queen, and agreed with pretty much everything Prince Philip’s character said.)

Much of the Royal family’s horribilis of late stems from unsuitable marriages to commoners. I don’t see this as a coincidence. I view it rather as giving in to yet another lazy assumption in contemporary life: that because people have led a monied life, they necessarily understand the duty and discretion that is required of joining the family of the Head of State. In my experience, the diametric opposite is often the case.

I’m bound to report that one can’t help feeling – after digging around a bit – that there might be something ever so grubby about Kate Middleton’s family, and its attitude to teaming up with royalty.

As long ago as 2008, Kate sorry Katherine’s brother James was quick to use Hello! as a conduit for his cake-making company, while stressing his connection to the House of Windsor. I understand Her Majesty was less than amused about this. Indeed, there are those who would suggest that James was absent when the feck was being handed out. He is a University dropout once photographed by an Aussie gossip magazine urinating against somebody’s fence while apparently tipsy. He also did a stint selling with Forestry For Life, an unregulated investment company flogging things which – some truculent clients allege – it didn’t own. To be more precise, the company sold a carbon credits/rain-forest land scheme to about 50 clients, taking in at least £1.25 million; the problem was, the credits weren’t up and running, and the company allegedly didn’t own the land specified.

The company is now the subject of an FSA investigation, and faces dissolution by Companies House because of failure to file legally-required documents. When The Slog rang them yesterday, however, FFL sounded open for business. Boss Matt Ames was there – but sadly, too involved in meetings to come to the phone. Although the company’s website has been ‘under development’ since the FSA investigations began, it used to boast that the Board was ‘headed by Sir Rodney Walker’ – a well known and largely respected sports entrepreneur. But Sir Rodney emphatically told The Slog “I am not the Chairman, although I was approached”.

The Slog spoke today to the FSA’s Chris Hamilton, who confirmed that “Active investigations into Forestry For Life are ongoing….although we understand that Mr Middleton is no longer associated with the company”. Some time back, the enthusiastic writ-issuing legal firm Carter-Ruck told the media that James Middleton’s association with FFL was short-term and that he was ‘not formally employed’ by the company. His informal employment did, however, stretch to working on FFL’s exhibition stand at a recent eco-event:

James Middleton (r) working in an informal capacity for FSA-investigated Forestry for Life

Pippa Middeton gave her first media interview just a fortnight before the announcement of her sister’s engagement, which one suspects she knew was imminent. She used much of the encounter to remorselessly plug the family business of selling party accessories. Says a friend of the Middletons, “Michael and Carole have hugely ambitious plans for Party Pieces. They see the engagement and their daughter’s new status as a giant step on that road”. They also see Pippa as the natural successor to take the business on into the next generation: the younger daughter has already launched an internet magazine spin-off.

“The Royal family is very keen to ensure that the wedding is not seen as a business opportunity for the Middletons and their associates,” a courtier allegedly told the Telegraph’s Mandrake last month. But that is a nonsense: the Royal wedding is going to be one big national Party – they are bound to benefit.

Both Ms Middleton and her parents have already shown they’re not exactly squeaky clean when it comes to plugs for the family business Party Pieces. Speaking as ‘Kate [not Katherine] from Party pieces’, the future Princess offered tips for hosting perfect parties on PP’s website as late as March this year. The post was removed the following day, but doing it in the first place shows an appalling lack of judgement.

Katherine’s parents Michael and Carole Middleton represent new money. They founded Party Pieces in 1987, and it has turned them into millionaires. Before that, Carole was an air stewardess, and Michael a pilot. Carole’s Dad was a lorry driver, and her mum a shop assistant….indeed, that side of the family are variously described as clerks, labourers and joiners going back some 150 years: Edward Thomas Glassborough, for example, was born in Shoreditch – but in 1881 he was residing at Her Majesty’s Pleasure in Holloway Prison.

Interestingly, there is a John Ward (great great great great grandfather) in the Middleton family tree, born in 1838, and listed as a hatter. My lot were indeed costumiers at the time, but as I recall the family head was called Felix. Later we went into bedsteads, and later still on the buses. My point here is that I’m not being an insufferable snob about the Middletons: I’m merely pointing out that, like me, they don’t seem to know the ropes about being royal.

Talking of Carole, for instance, one of William’s Eton set described her in 2007 as  “pushy, rather twee and incredibly middle class”. She made a major gaffe early on in the relationship when, during Prince William’s passing-out parade at Sandhurst, Mrs Middleton chewed gum incessantly while with the Royal party. Perhaps it is a urban myth, but the Middleton matriarch is reported to have told her daughter to study at St Andrews “so you can meet Prince William”.

I value what the Royal Family ought to stand for –  if only because the French are insanely jealous of us for having one. The last thing the Windsors need right now is more Sarah Ferguson and Prince Edward vulgarity. I can’t help thinking that the ghastliness of money-obsession needs to be kept out of Buckingham Palace for good and all. And in that sense – as my very ordinary mother used to say – they should stick to marrying those who know how to behave.

There’s nothing remotely wrong with making money and creating employment – I’m all for it. But there are few sights less edifiying than watching people climbing the north face of social demography in a bid to plant their flag among the highest in the land. Joining the high-ups demands a strong sense of the behavioural duty that goes with that state: to be Number One is a goal the same as any other, but looking after Number One is not the way to grace the position…and be admired in it. Kate Middleton still has a lot to learn before she can be Princess Katherine.