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May 26, 2017

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Pippa Middleton: famously the bridesmaid, now the bride

ENGLEFIELD, England — Pippa Middleton hit the headlines with a figure-hugging outfit at her sister Kate's wedding to Prince William but now the world-famous bridesmaid is becoming a bride herself.

Once again, all eyes will be on her dress as the 33-year-old marries financier James Matthews on Saturday at a lavish society wedding where William and Kate's children will play starring roles.

The wedding will be a chance for younger royals to come to the fore following the announcement earlier this month that Queen Elizabeth II's 95-year-old husband Prince Philip will retire from public duties later this year.

William's younger brother Prince Harry is expected to attend and a lot of the media attention will be on his US actress girlfriend Meghan Markle — amid widespread speculation that the two could be announcing their own engagement soon.

Harry issued a powerful and rare warning to media outlets last November not to harass his girlfriend, who is expected to come to the reception but not the wedding, where media will be allowed outside.

Three-year-old Prince George, who is third in line to the throne after his father William and his grandfather Prince Charles, will be a page boy at the ceremony while his two-year-old sister Princess Charlotte will be a bridesmaid.

The wedding is taking place in the Berkshire countryside west of London, near the Middleton family home.

It will reportedly feature a flypast by a World War II-era Spitfire plane, a £100,000 (US$130,000) temporary glass marquee and luxury portable bathrooms with oak fittings.

Pippa Middleton rocketed into the public eye at her sister's wedding in 2011, which had an estimated worldwide television audience of two billion.

Pictures of her wearing her white Alexander McQueen maid of honor's dress filled newspapers for weeks afterwards.

Hundreds of thousands joined the "Pippa Middleton Ass Appreciation Society" on Facebook, which six years on retains nearly 200,000 enthusiastic members.

"It is a bit startling to achieve global recognition (if that's the right word) before the age of 30 on account of your sister, your brother-in-law and your bottom," she once wrote.

'Ferocious ability to climb'

Pippa is the second of the three Middleton children, a year younger than Kate and four years older than businessman James.

Born on Sept. 6, 1983, Pippa spent her early years in Amman where father Michael Middleton worked with British Airways, before attending a series of top private schools on the family's return to Britain.

She graduated from Edinburgh University with an English literature degree, then became a socialite on London's posh party circuit.

The Middleton girls were dubbed "the Wisteria Sisters": "highly decorative, terribly fragrant and with a ferocious ability to climb", according to the Daily Mail.

When her sister married the future king, Middleton had the prime supporting role, appearing on the Buckingham Palace balcony with the royals.

She initially seemed to enjoy the attention, but was confronted with the flip side of fame when a tabloid newspaper published pictures of her topless on a 2006 family holiday.

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