Future princess Kate Middleton’s parents are airline stewards turned party-planning millionaires

Today is one of those days when the British Royalty get a genuine chance to razzle-dazzle us with storybook love and glamour as only they can. Sometimes it doesn’t work out well but royal weddings, and the excitement leading up to them, are some of the best mass entertainment Anglophiles can get.

Now we’re currently enthralled with the idea of another pretty princess, Kate Middleton, who is now publicly engaged to Prince William (the private engagement happened three weeks ago on a trip to Kenya). There’s nothing like a good fairytale

Kate as the distinction of being the first “commoner” to marry into British royalty in 350 years. She’s not exactly Cinderella, though, her parents Carole and Michael and sister Pippa (pictured above) are making millions from a children’s party planning company which sells mail-order party accessories called Party Pieces.

Her parents gave this statement today outside their house about their daughter’s engagement announcement:

“I would just like to say that Carole and I are absolutely delighted by today’s announcement and thrilled at the prospect of a wedding some time next year. As you know Catherine and Prince William have been going out together for quite a number of years which is great for us because we’ve got to know William really well. We all think he’s wonderful and we’re extremely fond of him. They make a lovely couple, they’re great fun to be with and we’ve had a a lot of laughs together. We wish them every happiness for the future.”

Kate and William have been dating, on and off, for quite some time. They met at St. Andrew’s University in Fife, Scotland, where they were both studying art history.

Before they made their millions from Party Pieces, Kate’s mother was a stewardess and father was an airline steward and then flight dispather, which William’s royal and aristocratic friends reportedly mocked. Since they’ve been successful entrepreneurs by starting a business in 1987, they’ve risen up a bit in social circles and have been able to employ both of their daughters. Kate was working for them for a while as a photographer, and shot some photos for their Christmas catalog as one of her last jobs before becoming betrothed to a prince.

Kate’s sister Pippa (27) was recently announced to be taking a much larger role in the Party Pieces empire, and is launching an online magazine, Party Times.  She previously did part-time PR work for an events catering company called Table Talk. The girls also have a brother, James Middleton(23) who dropped out of college to start a cake-making venture, which is attached to the family company.

Carole has expressed ambivalence about the company’s  connection to the royal family. It would be hard to deny that part of their success has come from the visibility due to the connection to Prince William, but they don’t want to seem exploitative.

Carole has only given one interview, in 2008 to Mandrake, where she explained her feelings about this curious situation. “You see, I feel very vulnerable about everything. I’m not a celebrity and don’t want to be one. I don’t want a PR person. I haven’t asked for all this. I’m concerned about my business; that’s my focus. I don’t want the attention to detract from that. I’m also worried for my family: I have three children – not just Catherine.”

Apparently they’ve received quite a bit of flack in the press, understandably, some of it true, some of it not. What is true is that they used Kate’s image on their website to promote Party Pieces, a widely panned decision. They have also recently started selling wedding-type accessories on their site, presumably in order to cash in on their daughter’s nuptial news. The royal class  may look down on such an entrepreneurial spirit, but in America that’s the status quo for our princesses Paris, Kourtney, Kortney, Khloe, Snooki, and J-Woww.