Pippa's Gungate scandal started with fake pistol, say reports

Pippa Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge's sister -- seen here in a ski race earlier this year -- was photographed over the weekend with a gun-wielding driver in Paris. (Getty Images)

Damage control is at full throttle in Gungate, the latest Pippa Middleton adventure.

It all began Saturday with the Duchess of Cambridge's sister sitting the passenger seat of an Audi convertible, accompanied by three men. The paparazzi were, naturally, following Pippa around. Everyone is laughing. Suddenly the unidentified driver whips a pistol out and points it at a photographer who was trailing them on a moped. Snap!

The photo makes it to the front page of the Sun tabloid in the UK by Monday. The 28-year-old Pippa is very quickly in an embarrassing position, as, by extension, is the Royal Family. Pointing guns at anyone is against the law and even being a part of the scene can land you in jail.

Was the gun real or fake? By Monday afternoon, the headlines and tweets were speculating on the chances of Pippa heading to prison. 'Gungate' had a life of its own.

Trying to put the brakes on this, a spokesperson for Arthur de Soultrait, the fashion businessman who was one of the car's occupants, insisted to Associated Press on Tuesday that it was all "a game" and that the gun was just a toy.

A photographer on the scene had already told Gala magazine in France that the gun was plastic.

"When the driver pulled the toy gun, it was to laugh, have fun," he is quoted as saying. "A few minutes later when the car was parked, I could touch the plastic gun that the driver showed me. It can be found in any toy store. It's a shame to see the extent that this story takes. "

AP reports that Paris police say they've received no complaint and are not investigating. That's contrary to some British newspaper reports that a complaint had been made, which would trigger a police response. The penalty for brandishing a gun in public can be seven years in prison. Even a plastic gun is no laughing matter.

Toy gun or not, the bottom line is that chances are, should Pippa have a chance to turn back the clock, she would likely have not gotten into that car.

The standard policy statement from St. James's Palace that Pippa is technically not a member of the Royal Family, so her movements have nothing to do with them. Well, like it or not, they do. 

Pippa has been a paparazzi target ever since the royal wedding last year, and will continue to be as long as she is future Queen Kate Middleton's sister. It can even work in her favour, given that she will be trying to sell her party-planning book, Celebrate, this fall.

The reality is that she gets as much or more attention than others in the Royal Family without any of the protection.

Pippa and her family have contacted the UK's Press Complaints Commission several times in the past year over tactics by photographers. There's little chance that will abate, given the public appetite for celebrity comings and goings.

So private citizen Pippa has learned to put up with it and, for the most part, stay away from anything that could embarrass her sister or the in-laws.

Didn't quite work out this time, even if Pippa is, in the end, blameless. She's a party girl who likes the jet set lifestyle. This episode brings her back to earth with a thud.


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Stupid, spoiled and no class.

The Queen is going to have a fit! Can the Queen strip someone of their peerage? She should in this case!

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