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By Catherine Ostler

On show: Pippa Middleton steps out of her cab at the engagement party of Holly Branson at The Roof Gardens Club in West London last Friday

The legs are on show, and the characteristic fake tan is visible through the shiny sheer tights.

She wears towering black stilettos, a brief cocktail dress, lots of twinkling diamond jewellery and heavy make-up — pink blusher and black eyeliner all around the eyes, applied with a trowel. A broad grin is the finishing touch.

Pippa Middleton's appearance in front of the photographers who clamoured for her picture as she left the engagement party of Richard Branson's daughter Holly in West London last Friday cleared up one thing at least: the chief maid of honour is certainly relishing her newfound attention.

Of course, if her sister wasn't marrying the second in line to the throne, Pippa would just be another passably attractive arts graduate from a second-tier university. But in Kate's orbit, she can be a star.

In short, the Bucklebury kitten has got the cream.

Weather girls, Hollywood starlets, Oscar nominees and potential prime ministers have looked less comfortable than she posing for the camera on the publicity circuit.

There 'Perfect Pippa' was again yesterday, in the car with her sister Kate, wearing tasteful navy; and then driving her mother Carole around, sporting 'aviator' shades.

She couldn't have looked less bothered by the latest rumour to emerge from the Palace: that aides have been put out by her bright idea of suspending disco mirror balls in Buckingham Palace's Throne Room for the 'post wedding breakfast disco', to lend it a louche nightclub vibe.

Mirror balls might seem neither original nor necessary, given that the gold-and-red Throne Room is one of the most opulent in the Palace, and a few cheap glittery balls will surely lose in a fight with one of the elaborate gold chandeliers.

But 27-year-old Pippa is nothing if not determined, and she will see off such dinosaur views.

She is one of life's organisers. And as recent pictures amply testify, self-doubt is not her speciality.

Kate's maid of honour is, of course, by trade a party planner, working three days a week at Clapham company Table Talk. She has tactfully wheeled in her accommodating boss, JoJo Browner, to help out tomorrow night.

'Perfect Pippa': Kate's sister looks at ease in aviator shades as she drives her mother Carole away from their family home in Bucklebury yesterday

Pippa spends the other two days of the week editing The Party Times, the online magazine that is a spin-off to her parents' company, Party Pieces.

On Monday, Party Times was pushing customers to buy last-minute bunting for British Street Parties, but this was taken down after all-too-familiar accusations of opportunism.

Pippa gave one interview to promote the site. Another was — at Kate's request — cancelled at the last minute.

Both of these roles are an extension of what Pippa most liked doing at Edinburgh University — which was organising shindigs for friends, and shepherding bright young things into after-dinner activities at grand house parties.

She has, apparently, taken two weeks off from her job to help plan the evening party for 300 at the Palace.

As William wants the evening to be 'young and cool' — odd, given that he has never particularly come across as either of those things — it seems to have been decided that part of the Palace should be transformed into a branch of that somewhat decadent London club, Boujis, for the night.

Pippa's close friend, the raffish Old Etonian nightclub owner Charlie Gilkes, is said to be organising the disco.

He runs Maggie's nightclub in the Fulham Road, which is an Eighties-themed tribute club to Margaret Thatcher, with stools styled to look like those symbols of the age — Rubik's cubes. (You get the picture.)

Furniture and accessories are being imported into the Palace for the night, to differentiate Pippa's party from the rest of the day's celebrations (which will, hopefully, be sympathetic to Palace features rather than trying to eclipse them).

Prince Charles might have won the catering battle by insisting on his favourite chef Anton Mosimann (his menu is a state secret, though one hears whispers of crab followed by lamb), but Pippa is said to have dreamed up the bacon butty and ice cream vans that will sit outside.

Great organiser: Pippa at a party for Starlight Children's Foundation at The Saatchi Gallery in London, left and with her brother James, right

(Like Marie Antoinette and her toy farm, there is nothing jolly young Sloanes love more than a bit of faux proletarian fodder. They find it amusing, so much so that we are in real danger of getting Wills and Kate 'rock 'n' Royal' pork scratchings at this rate.)

At the same time, just as Kate has asked that she be known as Catherine, apparently Pippa has asked to be called Philippa, but this may just be Palace malice.

True or not, she does now have her very own coat of arms; after Friday, Pippa will be the only person entitled to use Kate's original 'three-acorn-with-black-runs' job topped by a blue ribbon. (The bow represents the unmarried Middleton female.)

The recent suggestion that she might use her newfound fame and party planning experience to set up her own company 'in conjunction with her parents' seems highly likely.

She wouldn't be the first of her siblings to do so.

The third acorn on that crest, little brother James Middleton, is less visible than his sisters, but the 23-year-old has registered a series of companies in the past two weeks.

By her sister's side: Kate and Pippa leave their home in Berkshire earlier this week

Not content with the Cake Kit Company (it does what it says on the cake tin — you get all the kit to make a themed cake, be it football or a pink castle, for around £16), James has also registered Nice Cakes, Nice Wine and Nice Group London. All of which suggests an appetite for empire-building unhampered by the tiresome necessity of gleaning experience anywhere.

Like James, Pippa could reduce any start-up costs by setting herself up through her parents' company, publicising herself on their website and locating herself in the Party Pieces' HQ in Berkshire.

It is quite natural that, like James — the two of them share a flat in Chelsea that their parents bought in 2002 — Pippa should now want to be an entrepreneur.

Apart from being the children of self-starters, every young toff now thinks it is their destiny to be the next Branson.

Happy times: Kate, Pippa and their mother at her 26th birthday party in 2007

The younger Middletons have reassuringly close examples in their own set, such as Jamie Murray Wells — William's friend and the now very rich founder of Glasses Direct.

Just as you'll have to search very hard for the notorious and once easily available pictures of James Middleton in a frock at a party, neither will you find friends' pictures on Facebook of a perky Pippa wrapped in loo roll at a private party any more.

Her boyfriend, City financier and former England cricketer Alex Loudon, seems not to share his girlfriend's comfort in the limelight, since he's rarely seen by her side.

On Friday, it will be Prince Harry who will accompany Pippa into the signing of the Register and back down the Abbey aisle.

And by that time any fear — misplaced or not — that the socially hungry Middleton clan's behaviour could affect Kate's relationship with William will have lost its potency.

From now on, Pippa will find herself in the happy position of being sought after in the upper echelons of society, and able to do pretty much whatever she likes.

And on current form, we can be sure that the younger Miss Middleton will enjoy that.


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