When princess-to-be Kate Middleton, 29, and her younger sister, Pippa Middleton, are out around town, Brits notice how much they look and act alike. As was said of actress Patty Duke's TV characters, "They laugh alike, they walk alike, at times they even talk alike." The Middletons are much more than just sisters.
Thrust into the spotlight after Kate Middleton asked her sister to serve as the chief bridesmaid, a role Brits traditionally give to a much younger girl, Pippa, 27, has garnered almost as much attention as the bride herself.
But she's more than the little sister. Here are five things any royal wedding follower needs to know about the chief bridesmaid:
Off The Market?
While her sister is engaged to one of the world's most eligible bachelors, Pippa's love life has also been in the spotlight. In 2008, Tatler magazine named her the No. 1 Society Singleton, beating out musician James Blunt and Princess Eugenie, daughter of Sarah Ferguson and Prince Andrew. But Pippa may be off the market now that Alex Loudon, an old friend of Prince William, is in the picture. The couple reportedly started dating before Christmas, and it's rumored we'll see Loudon on Pippa's arm as her date to the royal wedding.
Pippa is Just a Nickname
Although commonly referred to as Pippa, Kate's younger sister's full name is Philippa Charlotte Middleton. But family members, including the princess-to-be, call her Pip. The origin of Philippa means "lover of horses" in Greek. Although she has never taken up horseback riding, Pippa can often be seen with her sister on the sidelines at Prince William's polo matches.
She's Following in Her Family's Footsteps
In summer of 2010, Pippa put her English degree from Edinburgh University to use when she launched The Party Times, an online party magazine. The site is a must-see destination with everything you need to know about planning parties, and includes theme ideas, tips and games. Pippa knows a lot about the party planning business considering her parents founded Party Pieces, an online party supply company in 1987. It is even rumored that party-planner Pippa will be at the helm of the biggest event this year: her sister's wedding.
She Is Dedicated to a Good Cause
Pippa serves as an ambassador to the charity, Too Many Women, which raises money for breast cancer research. Putting her party-planning skills to good use, she threw a Spanish-themed party last fall for Too Many Women that raised more than $7,500. In an interview with The Sunday Times, Pippa said, "[The event] was very simple: We had about 95 people and really good music. I was going for quite cool Ibiza chic, and a lot of good dancing." In addition to playing hostess, Pippa has been known to attend charity events, including parties and polo matches.
Pippa Has Her Own Royal Ties
Besides being Prince William's sister-in-law-to-be, Pippa has formed many of her own royal relationships. While at Edinburgh, her two roommates were George Percy, the oldest son of the Duke of Northumberland, and Lord Ted Innes-Ker, the second son of the Duke of Roxburghe. Indeed, Lord Ted's older sister was one of Sarah Ferguson's bridesmaids at her royal wedding to Prince Andrew. And a former fling, Alexander Spencer-Churchill, is a distant relative to the late Princess Diana. So, if they had hit it off, Pippa and William would have been related.