Perhaps she just wanted to take her mind off
her split from long-term boyfriend Alex Loudon.

For just days after her newly-single status
first leaked out, Pippa Middleton was enjoying a weekend-long shoot at the
stately pile of her close friend, George Percy, the Mail Online

Accompanied by a small group of friends, the
Duchess of Cambridge’s vivacious younger sister spent three days taking
pot-shots at grouse on his family estate in the Borders.

George – or to give him his proper title, Earl
Percy, son of the 12th Duke of Northumberland – also invited Pippa, 27, to join
his family at a Remembrance Sunday service held at Roman Catholic St Paul’s
Church in the nearby village of Alnwick.

She took a place in the front pew along with
his parents, the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland, and grandmother, Dowager
Duchess of Northumberland, Duchess Elizabeth.

George, 27, sat in the row

The Rev David Archer, who led the service,
admitted he had noticed a rather ‘attractive’ lady in the front row but had no
idea it was the future king’s sister-in-law.

I had noticed an attractive lady in the front
row, but I did not realise it was her. She did look like Pippa Middleton,’ he

St Paul’s new priest, Father Phil Carroll, had
welcomed the group into the church but also failed to notice Pippa and remarked:
‘That shows how much we know about what is going on.’

But an unnamed worshipper said: ‘It caused a
bit of a stir in the church.’

According to friends, George was one of the
few men who made Pippa’s beau a little green around the gills.

Royal sources say that while Pippa’s
friendship with the heir to one of the richest and grandest dukedoms in the land
wasn’t the reason for their split, Alex never felt entirely comfortable with the
closeness of their relationship.

The pair have been confidantes since they
shared a flat at Edinburgh University along with Ted Innes Ker, son of the Duke
of Roxburghe.

Over the summer the couple were seen at
endless social events, including the Queen’s Club championships.

The night before the tennis Pippa and George
were also seen enjoying a three-hour dinner together in a French restaurant near
Sloane Square before returning to his London flat where she was eventually seen
leaving at 2am. Bizarrely, George shares a flat with another of Pippa’s ex’s, JJ

There was also a long weekend in Madrid with a
gaggle of girlfriends shortly after the royal wedding in May, where the affable
aristocrat was seen squiring Pippa out to several of the city’s hottest
nightspots as rowing her around a boating lake.

Old Etonian Alex, a contemporary of Prince
William at the upper-crust school, is no slacker in the family

His father, James, is a successful financier
and former High Sheriff of Kent while his grandfather, Francis, married Lady
Prudence Jellicoe, daughter of Admiral Sir John Henry Rushworth Jellicoe, who
commanded the Royal Navy’s Grand Fleet at the Battle of Jutland in the First
World War and became the second Governor-General of New Zealand.

Olantigh, his family’s Kent estate, is an
eminently respectable country retreat with more than 20 acres of

But it cannot even begin to compare with the
Northumberland’s Alnwick Castle, which features as Hogwarts in the Harry Potter

The castle is known as as the ‘Windsor of the
North’ and George’s family are regarded locally in Border country as royalty.

The family’s wealth is conservatively put at
around £300million and includes more than 100,000 acres of land as well as an
estate in Surrey and Syon Park in London.

A bright, well-mannered and well-meaning young
man, George, who studied geography at university specialising in renewable
energy, also recently set up in business and is poised to drill the first
commercial geothermal well in Country Durham.

His parents, Ralph, the 12th Duke of
Northumberland, and gardening-obsessive mother Jane are sensible sorts and
withheld the bulk of his inheritance to prevent him going off the

The couple are on ‘kissing terms’ with most
members of the royal family (including the Queen) and they and their four
children were all invited to prince William’s April wedding.

For her part Pippa was said to be ‘supremely
at home’ when she attended the wedding of their eldest, daughter, Lady Katie at
Alnwick In February.
Little wonder that
Alex found Pippa’s association with the family a little ‘claustrophobic’,
according to one well-placed source.

Last week The Sun reported they had finally
spilt after 18 months together – just weeks after Pippa was given the keys to
Alex’s Fulham home..

According to the newspaper, Pippa and Alex, a
former professional cricketer who works as a financial analyst at brewing giant
SAB Miller in Woking, are now ‘barely speaking’.

‘She and Alex split briefly in the summer –
but this time it’s over,’ a source said.

The paper claimed that Alex, who is intensely
private, felt uncomfortable with Pippa’s new found celebrity.

Friends have always expressed surprise at the
relationship – ‘Alex is very nice and steady and all that but he’s just, well, a
bit boring – particularly compared to Pippa who is hugely outgoing,’ one told
the Mail only last month.

Friends say her next beau would need to be
‘seriously sporty and well off’. ‘And it wouldn’t hurt for them to have even a
moderately respectable country pile,’ said one.

Perhaps the Middletons might yet boast double
duchesses in the family

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