Pippa Middleton stole the world's heart last April, gliding down the aisle at the royal wedding, stunning in Alexander McQueen, as her sister Kate wed Prince William at Westminster Abbey. Pippa Middleton became a household name. Guys wanted to date her; girls wanted to dress like her; and everyone's eyes stayed glued to the royal sister-in-law.
One year later and public perception has shifted. While on holiday in Paris last weekend, the 28-year-old attended a wild party complete with white wigs and dwarves, stayed out until 5 a.m. and landed herself in PR nightmare.
After a night of raucous partying, Pippa Middleton and three male companions buzzed around in a convertible as photographers followed to snap some photos of the brunette beauty. In a bizarre turn of events, the driver pulled out what appeared to be a semi-automatic pistol and aimed the weapon at the photographer. Middleton, who was sitting in the passenger's seat of the car, laughed.
The gun seen in the photo turned out to be a toy gun. The driver of the car was identified as Romain Rabillard, according to Us Weekly. Rabillard is a 36-year-old French attorney who represents German firearms manufacturer Heckler & Koch.
On Wednesday, a statement was issued by the party host, French aristocrat Arthur de Soultrait, about the debacle.
"She [Pippa] 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 said, via a People magazine report.
"Obviously Philippa had no idea that he was going to do that and told him to stop immediately. She did not find it funny. 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."
The royal in-laws, however, are reportedly not pleased. "This is embarrassing for them," a royal source told Us Weekly. Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton is supposedly amongst the disgruntled. Pippa's gun photo "has put Kate in a very difficult position," the source added.
The gun photo caused a media frenzy, which aroused further scrutiny over Pippa Middleton's partying ways and her far-from-middle-class behavior.
"There has always been a suspicion among the British people that the Middleton children were actually members of the idle rich, and the spotlight that Gungate has shone on Pippa's party companions has now confirmed that hunch," wrote The Daily Beast's The Royalist writer Tom Sykes.
Over the weekend, Pippa Middleton visited Paris for a lavish, costy party - a 36th birthday celebration for Soultrait. Photos from the party reveal just how far from "normal" Middleton's escapades truly are, said Sykes.
"There is the general impression of privileged debauchery, with a powerful overall air of entitled arrogance, not helped by the fact that everyone is dressed up in cullottes, ball gowns and white wigs," he wrote. The look was reminiscent of the decadent ancien regime of France before the revolution.
The party invites read "Le Roi est Mort, Vive le Vicomte", which translates to "The king is dead, long live the viscount." The party itself featured dwarf performers, strippers and a King Arthur decked out with a studded bondage collar around his neck. According to The Sun, Pippa was seen "passionately" kissing French playboy Antoine de Tavernost.
Ever the perfect guest, Middleton agreed to be interviewed on camera with Soultrait's younger brother Mercy, who referred to Pippa as his "petite amie" (girlfriend). The interviewer asked Pippa what she though of the "French flair" to which she giggled "amazing," according to the Huffington Post. He then asked, "Do you speak French?" To which she replied "Un petit peu!" before dancing off.
Pippa's partying ways have been questioned before. In May 2011, a photo surfaced of the younger Middleton dancing around at a bash in just a bra and a skirt.
Now, one year after the royal wedding, Britons are seeing Pippa Middleton in a drastically different light from 12 short months ago.
"The images of Pippa, the sister of the future queen, grinning away alongside her idiotic overprivileged friends as they cavort in bondage gear alongside miniature men hired to provide freak-show entertainment, might prove a little harder to erase from the national consciousness," wrote The Royalist's Tom Sykes.
"As the one year anniversary of the moment Pippa sprung to fame as her sister's bridesmaid approaches, the question of just what she intends to do with her sudden and unasked-for celebrity is more urgently in need of an answer than ever before."