Pippa's gun-toting driver turns out to be a ... lawyer
You can say this much about Pippa Middleton’s gun-toting friends -- they know the law.
In fact, the fellow who was snapped pointing a gun -- which those involved insist is fake -- at a photographer last weekend has been identified as a lawyer. Better yet, the Daily Mail reports that he is an adviser to a gun manufacturer.
Romain Rabillard (right) is a 36-year-old lawyer based in Paris for the American law firm Shearman and Sterling. From all reports, he’s a party-happy guy, but his sense of humour got the better of him on the weekend.
Rule No. 1: Don’t put Pippa Middleton in the front seat of your car if you don’t want attention.
Rabillard was driving his Audi convertible through the streets Paris, carrying the Duchess of Cambridge’s sister and two other men, including fashion businessman Arthur de Soultrait. The night before the group had been de Soultrait’s 30th birthday costume party, by all accounts a wild affair drawing the young and very rich.
With paparazzi trailing his Audi, De Soultrait pulled out a gun and pointed it directly at a photographer. The resulting photos hit the tabloid press and Gungate was born, with Pippa in the middle. The Royal Family put its usual distance from Kate’s sister’s activities, but it didn’t look good, with talk of police investigations and prison terms.
Cries from those involved that the gun was fake didn’t quell the questioning.
De Soultrait came out on Wednesday with an apology. Middleton, he said "had no idea he (Rabillard) was going to do that and told him to stop immediately. She did not find it funny."
Noting that Pippa had been the target of "constant and dangerous harassment" by photographers, de Soultrait concluded: "I regret enormously that this incident happened, and especially that Pippa has been subject to subsequent attention through no fault of her own."
De Soultrait’s brother Marcy has taken the stance of scolding the media for blowing it all out of proportion: “It was a children's toy that the driver had in his car,” he told the Mail. “It is fine in France to do that and the police are not investigating. In France there is no problem, just in England. You English think there is a problem, which is crazy.”
Rabillard, who was all smiles as he pulled his stunt, perhaps isn’t thinking it’s so funny now.
He is being portrayed as an attorney who likes to party as hard as he works. “Romain is a very hard-working lawyer, but he absolutely loves to let his hair down,” a friend is quoted as saying.
One of his clients, the Daily Mail confirmed, was Heckler & Koch, a German firm which makes small arms weapons. Newspapers are claiming the weapon he was waving around at the photographer bore a striking resemblance to one that Heckler $ Koch produces.
He was not at his office this week and it’s reported that he’s lying low.
It’s unclear if the police are actually investigating the incident. One source told the Mail it was receiving “low priority,” though penalties for even brandishing a fake gun could land Rabillard in jail for up to two years.
Pippa, meanwhile, is back in the UK. There was one report that she received a call from Prince Harry, who has been known to step over the line at parties every now and then (remember his Nazi uniform?). His advice to her, apparently, was to keep a low profile for a while.
Good luck with that.