Kate Middleton's parents 'to cash in from Royal Wedding selling line of themed products'By Fay Schlesinger
Kate Middleton's parents stand to benefit financially from the royal wedding by releasing street party paraphernalia to coincide with the date, it has emerged.
Their mail order firm Party Pieces is preparing to release a range of products for people planning traditional celebrations to mark the wedding to Prince William, an employee has said.
The move – thought to be the first time the Middletons will profit directly from their daughter's entry into the royal family – risks angering Buckingham Palace.
Prince William and Kate Middleton will marry in April, but some have questioned whether Kate's parents should profit from their daughter's nuptialsA customer wrote on the company's official Facebook page last month (Jan): 'Hi! We attend a British school in Sweden and will have a Royal Wedding day in April! Will you be selling traditional British themed products we can order in the coming months?'
A Party Pieces worker responded: 'We certainly will be doing some traditional street party bits. These will be available mid-late February.'
Carole and Mike Middleton already sell patriotic Union Jack bunting, plastic crockery and table decorations suited to the thousands of Coronation-style parties that are expected to be held across the country on April 29.
The parents of Kate Middleton, Michael and Carole are preparing to release a range of products for people planning traditional celebrations to mark the Royal Wedding
EnlargeBut until now they have studiously avoided any suggestion that their products are designed for the royal wedding.
The Facebook page where a Party Pieces employee revealed plans to release 'traditional street party bits'
The Middletons are desperate to avoid being seen to cash in on Kate's royal connections, amid fears that the Queen would strongly disapprove.
But the firm has inevitably seen business boosted by the publicity surrounding their eldest daughter.
When William, 28, and Kate, 29, announced their engagement in November, the website saw a massive, 18-fold spike in visitor numbers, the Daily Mail has found.
At its peak, Party Pieces attracted 0.02 per cent of the world's internet users.
And average traffic now appears to have remained at a higher level than before the engagement, according to web information analysts Alexa.
The family is understood to vehemently deny any allegation they are seeking to profit from royal connections. A spokesman yesterday declined to comment.
A royal insider said: 'It is not the Middletons' fault that there has been focus on their business. But Party Pieces is now on the radar of hundreds of thousands more people than before, and inevitably that means more potential customers and no doubt an increase in sales.
Popular: The Party Pieces website page, offering everything for children's parties, including princess-themed products
'Aides at Clarence House and Buckingham Palace are very nervous about any commercial links to the royal family, so will be taking this seriously.'
Party Pieces got unwelcome publicity in March last year when it published an interview with Kate – then an employee - discussing her tips for the perfect party, alongside a photo.
It was swiftly removed when critics pointed out that she had just won damages from a photographic agency for breach of privacy.
The website has also drawn raised eyebrows over its princess-themed section, though it pre-dates the engagement.
Mrs Middleton, who turned 56 on Monday, quit a career as an air hostess and set up Party Pieces in 1987.
Her husband, a former British Airways flight dispatcher, helps to run it. Kate worked as a photographer and web designer for the firm for three years until Christmas, when she quit to become a full-time wedding planner.
Her sister Pippa, 26, runs Party Times, an online magazine for her parents' company which features in a glossy newspaper magazine two weeks before the royal engagement.
And her brother James, 23, promotes his cake-making business through the website.
The finances of Party Pieces are shrouded in secrecy because it trades as a partnership rather than being registered as a company, which would entail lodging accounts with Companies House.
But it is thought to have made millions of pounds for the family, and helped to pay for Kate and her siblings to attend the prestigious Marlborough College, which now costs £29,000 a year.
The Middletons have risen from humble middle-class roots to own a £1million detached house in Bucklebury, in Berkshire and a £780,000 Chelsea flat for their children, while taking exclusive holidays in the Caribbean.
The firm is based in a warehouse near their Berkshire home and employs about 13 people. It sells party bags, fancy dress costumes and games for children's birthday parties and special occasions from Christmas and Easter to Chinese New Year.
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