The French aristocrat who hosted Pippa Middleton for a wild weekend in Paris that ended with the royal sister-in-law embroiled in a gun photo scandal has apologized.
Arthur de Soultrait issued a public apology to Middleton, 28, the sister-in-law of England's Prince William, and described the incident, in which Middleton was snapped laughing as a male companion in a car pointed a gun at a photographer following them in Paris, as a "joke."
"Last Saturday, I was in a car with Philippa Middleton, and we were being followed by paparazzi," read the statement from De Soultrait, a fashion label owner, released Wednesday in Paris, according to People magazine.
"She had been subject to constant and dangerous harassment by paparazzi throughout her time in Paris. The car was being driven by a friend of mine, whom Pippa had only met a few hours before. As a joke, my friend brandished a toy pistol in their direction," he wrote. "Obviously Philippa had no idea that he was going to do that and told him to stop immediately. She did not find it funny."
De Soultrait, 30, and Middleton were both passengers in the Audi convertible driven by De Soultrait's friend, later identified as French criminal lawyer Romain Rabillard, 36, Sunday when he allegedly reached for a what appeared to be a semi-automatic gun and jokingly aimed it at a paparazzi following them, London newspaper The Sun reported.
The widely released image, showing Middleton, the younger sister of the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, grinning as Rabillard aims the gun, thrust the popular royal-in-law into unwanted headlines and rumors she could face criminal charges under France's strict gun laws.
The drama proved overblown, however, when the photographer later said he knew all along the gun was a fake and never filed a police complaint and Paris police also confirmed they are not investigating the incident.
"I regret enormously that this incident happened, and especially that Pippa has been subject to the subsequent attention through no fault of her own. I have apologized to her for this," de Soultrait said.
Middleton was in Paris to attend de Soultrait's 30th birthday party, an elaborate, 18th century-themed costume party that caused a stir of its own. Online photos showed the 300-plus partygoers cavorting with dwarfs while dressed in outlandish costumes and Middleton herself was photographed posing with de Soultrait, who was wearing a dog collar and chain while sitting on a gilded throne.