Pippa and the new tabloid royalty

Exit Waity Katy. Enter the hot sister, the vengeful mum, and the ‘Baywatch’ blondes

The changing of the tabloid guard

Getty Images; Reuters; Photo illustration by Taylor Shute

On April 29, the British tabloids officially lost “Waity Kaity,” the nickname they’d foisted on Kate Middleton. But the gods of fame and rumour more than compensated with a cast of characters destined to feed the gossip mills and paparazzi for years. And just in time: post-engagement and wedding, the “Wills & Kate” narrative is in cruise control until the inevitable “baby bump” rumours fly.

Westminster Abbey, the focus of a billion eyes, provided an ideal incubator for celebrity creation—which clearly has a lot less to do with talent or accomplishment than genetics, timing and exposure. The day served as a snapshot of the piffle that excites the masses—derrières, dresses, outlandish hats. The day’s breakout star, Pippa Middleton, was already well known to the tabs: the 27-year-old party planner has been a girl about London for years. In 2008, Tatler named her “the No. 1 society singleton,” but couldn’t resist snarking: “Goes to a lot of parties, but mainly as the caterer.” That was before the royal seal of approval, back when the Middletons were ridiculed as parvenus and Kate and Pippa dubbed the “Wisteria Sisters” for their social climbing acumen.

Then, presto, Pippa donned The Dress and minced up the aisle, a journey that served as a primal dog whistle, launching a million tweets and the “Pippa Middleton Ass Appreciation Society.” Pippa hadn’t exited the church on Prince Harry’s arm before speculation raged that the two would hook up at the reception. It’s a scenario ripe for triangulation, dragging in Pippa’s now-famous beau, Alex Loudon, a handsome former cricket player turned financier known as “Minotaur,” and Prince Harry’s off-on girlfriend Chelsy Davy. The permutations are endless.

Another visual drama was sparked by the arrival of princesses Eugenie and Beatrice in get-ups that looked like Beatrix Potter-Salvador Dalí collaborations: within hours, Beatrice’s bizarre Philip Treacy fascinator was an Internet meme and theories were flying that the sisters’ tabloid-magnet mother, Sarah Ferguson, had plotted their attention-grabbing garb as revenge for not being invited. A Ferguson “friend” told e-zine Popeater: “This was her way of saying f–k you to the family who would rather pretend she doesn’t exist.” Ferguson, who knows tabloids adore humiliated women, fanned the flames on Oprah, revealing that the snub made her feel “totally worthless.”

Now her daughters are positioned as the plotting Tiggy-Winkle sisters, a script dating back to 2008 when the British press claimed they banned Pippa from the front row of a fashion show after she failed to invite Beatrice to a “roller-skating charity disco.”

William’s other cousins, the blond bombshell Spencer sisters, previously under the radar in South Africa, also stepped into the spotlight. Lady Kitty, Eliza and Amelia, nieces of the late Princess Di, are a “photogenic triple dose of society dynamite,” wrote the Daily Mail, which noted their makeup and obvious cleavage was “more Baywatch than Burke’s Peerage”—a compliment. There’s every sign they’ll be tabloid gold: Amelia was charged with assault at a Cape Town McDonald’s this year and a trove of raunchy photos of the trio are floating online.

The prime sister story, with years of mileage in it, is Kate and Pippa. Pitting them as rivals is the preferred approach: “Whose dress was more of a knockout?” ABC News asked. And royal watcher Katie Nicholl told Us Weekly, the two “fight over who had the worst headache or period pain!” Already they’re being pigeonholed into historical templates. declared the two the “new Bouvier sisters” after style setters Jacqueline Kennedy and Lee Radziwill. Pippa has also been likened to the Queen’s fun-loving younger sister, the late Princess Margaret, a comparison that gained traction when photos from her past were published last week—one in a bra and skirt grinding into a toff in boxers, another of her removing her bikini top. Now, the mainstream British press is fretting recent weight loss has diminished Pippa’s “gorgeous behind.” With drama so bottomless, who can even remember Waity Kaity?

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