For the Middletons, their destination was something which was always known to them. They knew exactly where they were going and knew precisely how to get there. Private schools, expensive holidays and society soirées with aristocratic mingling provided the vehicles for this family’s induction into British Royalty. Michael and Carole Middleton’s first born daughter, Catherine will be the future Queen of England and Pippa looks set to become a well-reared media powerhouse, but is it their university-dropout son, James, who will make a name for himself, as the smartest, most astute and hard-working Middleton?
Kate and Pippa Middleton have become known by the world’s media as the “Wisteria Sisters”. In case you’re wondering, wisteria is a type of flowering plant that grows adventitiously to heights exceeding 20m. Therefore, it’s rather appropriate that a girl who went to university, only to meet and subsequently marry the future King of England and her sister who achieved international fame through a strategically structured Alexander McQueen dress would receive their sobriquet from such a plant. They were so called because, according to the British media, Kate and Pippa were “highly decorative, terribly fragrant” and possessed a “ferocious ability to climb. However, in this month’s British GQ, Katie Nicholl asks whether or not it is their much overlooked brother, James who is the most ambitious of the three. Is “the other Middleton” a successful self-starting entrepreneur, or a family-funded liability?
Nicholl characterises James as a prince Harry type rebel, but also as one who possesses the right amount of family flair to know how to get what he wants. At 25-years-of age, he has finally stepped out of his sisters’ shadows, is the proprietor of four companies and hopes that he can build an empire similar to his parents’ £30million website Party Pieces. Nicholl says that the first time she met James was at a “suitably regal” society event at St. James’s Palace, whereby he escorted his sister Pippa to the dessert table, which was decorated with a “human-sized birthday cake and a decadent chocolate fountain.” While Pippa refrained from sampling the sweet delicacies, choosing instead to pose for the masse of selected photographers, James decided to try every dessert. Possibly because he was casting a critical eye over the saccharine offerings (he owns a cake-making company), but more likely because he really is the most down-to-earth, nonchalant and carefree Middleton sibling.
Indeed, this nonchalance is something which features heavily in the piece. James attended Edinburgh University, where he studied environmental resources management, before dropping out after his first year. Feeling that university life wasn’t for him, he decided that hands on experience would serve him best and in 2007, he opened his first business, The Cake Kit Company, which delivers home-baking kits to your door for £16. However, Nicholl describes James’s time in university as a time spent indulging in his “penchant for drag” and “falling out of nightclubs.” A couple of photos and suddenly it’s a penchant? Nevertheless, James’s instincts served him correctly and his business was nominated for a HSBC Start-Up Stars award and in 2010, he won the Haines Watts Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award. He certainly seems to be a Middleton who is breaking the family mould.
Despite not having a degree, James appears to be the most ambitious of the Middletons, not relying on his family name to make him his millions, but confident in the belief that he can build an empire on his own volition and entrepreneurial flair. Of course, James recognises that being a Middleton can have its certain advantages and Nicholl reveals that during his short time in university, James used to have pictures of Kate on his wall, cut out from Hello! magazine, and used the chat-up line “My sister’s going to be the Queen. Fancy a date?” Described as “always being up for a party”, there’s no question that the only son of Michael and Carole Middleton is the most carefree of their three children, and whether that serves him well or not, the potential fame aspect of his life is not something which worries or concerns James. It’s asked whether he is a liability, but in reality, he is probably the most hard-working of the three and in many ways, he has to be. Kate has made it, Pippa just has to wiggle her bum and she’s a star, but James has to prove, if only to himself, that he can build his empire on his own terms and intelligence.
Nicholl mentions the rumours regarding the 25-year-old’s sexuality, adding to them by referencing the fact his plus one for the Royal Wedding was a man, but then quashing them by telling us about a string of beautiful socialite girlfriends and female friends. She says that James has joked about this in the past, saying that the only girl in his life is his three-year-old dog Ella.” While this matters very little either way, apparently those who know James say that he is a “red-blooded male who revels in a slightly camp sense of humour.”
It was inevitable that James would be the most overlooked of the three Middleton siblings, but for James, this is perhaps exactly what he wants. Nicholl repeatedly tells us that James is in the process of building an empire and he is doing it at his own pace. He will set the world alight when he feels he is ready. His enterprising spirit and canny business acumen will serve him well. This is the guy who overcame his dyslexia to deliver a word-perfect reading at his sister’s wedding, with over two billion onlookers scrutinizing his every word.
James attended a private prep school in Pangbourne, Berkeshire, whose motto was Altiora Petimus. This translates into a particularly apt maxim – We Aim for Higher Things and I can’t help but think that it is James, and not Kate or Pippa who most resembles the characteristic traits of the wisteria plant, however, he possesses them for all the right reasons.