Controversial Moments That Rocked Pippa Middleton's Reputation

Being related to the future Queen of England comes at a cost, including unparalleled public and media attention — and it's not always positive. Nonetheless, Kate Middleton's younger sister Pippa Middleton continues to strive for a more private life with her husband James Matthews, and their three kids: son Arthur Michael William and daughters Grace Elizabeth Jane and Rose Louise Victoria. Pippa's attempt at staying out of the limelight has however proven nearly impossible as she appears to be a tabloid-favorite.

As royal fans would recall, Pippa stole the spotlight at her sister's 2011 royal wedding to Prince William. Clad in a form-fitting Alexander McQueen dress, Pippa unknowingly drew attention to her bum, with many publications dubbing it the "Rear of the Year." Even worse, rumors swirled that Pippa might have intentionally enhanced her bum to fit into the dress. "I'm not convinced that it's completely natural. Because I think, if you look at other photos of her and you see her in jeans, she's got quite a flat bottom," Lesley Reynolds Kahn, a London business owner, speculated to E! News. "But I think possibly for the day, for that gorgeous dress, she may have had some sort of pants that gave her a little bit of a lift, or even a little bit of padding."

But while the 2011 debacle quickly fizzled out, Pippa would end up racking up even more controversies and scandalous moments for herself through the years.

The infamous gun scandal

In 2012, Pippa Middleton made headlines after finding herself in the middle of a gun scandal. Middleton, who was vacationing in Paris at the time, was pictured in the passenger seat of a convertible with three male friends, including the driver, who ended up pointing a gun at photographers following them. Unsurprisingly, the incident threw the public into a frenzy with many speculating that there would be legal implications for not only the driver but also for Middleton. "If the evidence points to her involvement, she will be prosecuted. Anybody involved in the illegal use of a handgun in public is liable to arrest and interrogation," a source told The Sun

Eventually, though, the gun was confirmed to be a fake, though that detail wasn't enough to rid Middleton of legal consequences. "Certainly if you were in a car and knew somebody was using a gun to warn people off you'd be liable to arrest," the insider added. The British socialite was later absolved of any blame with French fashion designer Viscount Arthur de Soultrait confirming that she had only just met the driver a few hours prior and did not support his action. "Obviously [Pippa] had no idea that he was going to do that and told him to stop immediately. She did not find it funny," Soultrait clarified to Us Weekly. Though she was eventually vindicated of any wrongdoing, Middleton's reputation took a big hit at the time.

She faced backlash for eating whale meat

Three years after her gun scandal, Pippa Middleton stirred up yet another controversy when she admitted to eating whale meat during a trip to Norway. In her column for the Daily Telegraph, Middleton recounted the experience, comparing whale meat to smoked salmon. "We dined on smoked whale carpaccio (which tastes similar to smoked salmon but looks more like venison carpaccio)," she described (via the DailyMail).

Middleton's distinct food choice however came with its share of backlash from the public, particularly PETA, a nonprofit organization championing animal rights. "If Pippa is looking for a culinary experience, some of the best high-end vegan food — recently named by Forbes magazine as a top food trend — can be found in Norway, and it's good for the heart, an organ Pippa seems to lack," Elisa Allen, then associate director of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals U.K. told E! News in a statement.

Though the hunting of whales for commercial purposes has long been banned in the U.K., countries like Norway and Japan still have it legalized, leaving many distressed over how the mammals are often killed. "Killing whales is cruel, there is no humane way to kill them and many are slaughtered using brutal harpoon grenades," Vanessa Williams-Grey, a campaigner for the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Group explained to Express. As an alternative, Williams-Grey suggested that Middleton could have chosen to go whale watching instead of eating them.

Pippa Middleton and her husband's year-long battle with their neighbors

Not even Kate Middleton's sister is immune to neighbor problems! In March 2021, Pippa Middleton and her husband James Matthews bought Bucklebury Farm Park with hopes of turning it into a family-friendly tourist attraction center. Upon purchase, the couple kickstarted their plans, quickly erecting a covered seating area, with later plans to renovate an existing barn, build a new barn, construct a storage building, add new toilets, build a 100-vehicle car park, and divert a public footpath, according to The Sun

Matthews and Pippa's grand plans were however halted by a certain neighbor who objected to their proposed diverted footpath, with claims that the new route was prone to flooding. According to the Daily Mail, the neighbor also showed concerns over a "potential conflict" that might arise on the footpath between people walking and those with cars. Additionally, many others resisted the couple's renovations, with fears that Pippa and Matthews would remove the slides which has served the community's kids for years.

In December 2022, after a year-long battle however, Pippa and Matthews received permission from local authorities to go ahead with all of their renovation plans for the park.

Pippa Middleton reportedly did not want Meghan Markle at her wedding

Royal watchers are no strangers to Meghan Markle's longtime feud with the royal family, but not many are aware of the alleged drama that sprung up during Pippa Middleton's 2017 wedding to James Matthews. In the book "Fighting Freedom," royal experts Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand recounted Middleton's initial hesitation to inviting Markle to her wedding. "Both the bride and her mom, Carole, privately harbored concerns that the American actress's presence alongside [Prince] Harry might overshadow the main event," they wrote (via Us Weekly). To make matters worse, the U.K. media was constantly drawing comparisons between Markle and the bride-to-be, causing even more worry about the American actor being the center of attention.

Eventually though, to avoid a rift between the royal family, Middleton extended an invitation to the former "Suits" actor. Despite the invitation, Markle missed the church ceremony, attending only the reception party with Prince Harry. But while she might have arrived at the ceremony with Prince Harry, Markle ended up sitting by herself as Middleton had instructed that couples be separated. "Sitting together in the custom glass marquee that has been erected on the eighteen-acre property should have been a fun night for the couple, but, per Pippa's request, no couples sat together," Scobie and Durand wrote in the book, as recounted by the Mirror

Pippa Middleton's old partying habits

These days, Pippa Middleton is busy being a wife to her husband James Matthews, and their three kids, Arthur Michael William, Grace Elizabeth Jane, and Rose Louise Victoria. "Family life and motherhood has consumed much of my spare time and unsurprisingly the challenges I thrived on have taken a back seat. Running and fitness still form part of my weekly routine but not to the level it was before," she explained to fitness brand HOKA in 2021.

Before immersing herself in the world of motherhood, Middleton's younger days were characterized by frequent trips abroad, an active social life, and a few visits to questionable parties. In April 2012, Middleton made headlines after she was spotted at a Parisian party featuring some absurd costumes. Pictures from the event showed a man with a dog collar around his neck and a half-naked woman dressed as a nun. And while Middleton was decently dressed in a corseted dress, her attendance drew criticism all the same. "A lot of the world considers that [Pippa] is royal, and by association what she does has an influence on the royal family," Ingrid Seward, editor-in-chief of royal publication Majesty Magazine, told Associated Press.

Responding to the backlash, Middleton attempted to clean up her reputation, telling Daily Mail that her party-girl image was far from the truth. "People see me as someone privileged who has used my position to advantage; that I don't really work, that I am a socialite — that word really irritates me," she admitted.