When Pippa Middleton walks down the aisle Saturday at St. Mark's Church in Englefield, it won't be her sister who walks behind her, making sure the bride's train enjoys a smooth passage to the altar.
Rather, Kate Middleton will remain seated, with husband Prince William, Prince Harry and his date, Meghan Markle, and the rest of her family. But that's not because she was asked and refused to take part, or because she wasn't asked.
Pippa famously served as Kate's maid of honor, launching a thousand headlines of her own with the merest flash of a posterior curve. But Kate never seemed too perturbed—seemingly a plot point in countless fictional weddings—about "Her Royal Hotness" inadvertently stealing a bit of her wedding day thunder. Kate won't be following suit as Pippa's matron of honor because, simply, she wants Pippa to have her own day.
Obviously Kate can't help the inevitable: Her outfit will be its own story, as will every move Prince George, 3, and Princess Charlotte, 2, make in their roles as ridiculously adorable page boy and bridesmaid.
But by not being a member of the wedding party, other than as minder of the page boy and bridesmaid, Kate will automatically be ceding at least some of the spotlight back to her sister.
Less than two years apart in age, the Middleton ladies have always been close, having grown up part of a tight-knit family along with brother James. Both athletic and competitive—the Middleton family loves to play games when they gather for holidays—they've managed to remain as close as possible, despite the fact that one of them joined the royal family in 2011 and is married to the future king of England. Kate's situation inevitably altered their lifestyle—not as many impromptu coffee dates or carefree jaunts around London anymore—but they've worked around any built-in restrictions.
At least when it comes to each other, that is. Multiple reports have concluded that Pippa's career as a TV presenter didn't work out because she was reined in by the royals, particularly her brother-in-law, after the splash she made at the royal wedding triggered too big of a wave. For a time Pippa wrote a "Sport and Social" column for the Telegraph, as well as wrote for Vanity Fair and Spectator, and she reportedly received a $515,000 advance for her event-planning book, Celebrate: A Year of Festivities for Families and Friends, which didn't sell well.
"It was felt by William in particular that she needed some guidance and support," a friend of Pippa's told the Daily Mail a year ago.
Much like her sister, Pippa has since turned some of her energies toward philanthropic work, running the grueling Great Wall Marathon in China last year and putting together the cookbook Heartfelt to raise money for the British Heart Foundation.
"Not particularly," Pippa told Today's Matt Lauer in 2014, in what was her first-ever TV interview, when asked if her sister's station in life had affected their bond.
"I mean, obviously she has pressures that she's taken on and things," she said. "But we spend a lot of time together. We still do a lot together as a family. And I think that's really the heart for all of us is having a really close family that we can sort of be normal with each other, treat each other normally. And that's sort of kept us all, you know, affixed to the ground."
When George was christened in 2013, doting Auntie Pippa brought silver-cast sculptures of his hands and feet that reportedly cost $11,000 as a present. So right from the beginning, nothing was too fine for her little nephew. After Charlotte was born, Pippa went on a teeny-clothing-buying spree at Amaia, a favorite London baby boutique known for their British brands.
If anything was going to cut into Kate's sister time, it was becoming a mum, but she and Pippa have continued to be a support system for each other, and George and Charlotte's aunt was a frequent visitor at Kate and Will's home in Norfolk.
"Yeah, we do, we have a very normal, sisterly relationship," Pippa told Lauer. "We're very close. And, you know, we support each other and get each other's opinions and things."
Kate's close-knit family was among the many things William fell in love with, and he spent a lot of time at the Middleton family home during weekends away from university at St. Andrew's in Scotland.
Mike and Carole Middleton, Kate's parents, "have been really loving and caring and really fun, and have been really welcoming towards me, so I've felt really a part of the family," William said in 2010 in the joint interview he and Kate gave upon announcing their engagement.
The couple would continue to regularly join the Middleton family on their annual holiday in Mustique but had to skip last year's excursion to focus on their children and plan their spring tour of India, at the time their first trip overseas since 2014.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the kids attended a Christmas Day service in December at St. Mark's with the Middletons, including Pippa and her fiancé, James Matthews—part of Kate and William's overall plan to alternate holidays between their families, but also reportedly because all of them wanted to be together in Bucklebury before Pippa tied the knot.
Meanwhile, she may not be in the wedding, but Kate hasn't recused herself from the planning and the festivities.
Kate attended Pippa's bachelorette weekend in March, a ski retreat in Meribel, France—Carole and Mike footed the bill for a private jet and the ladies reportedly stayed in a luxurious chalet where they were treated like, well, royalty. (That also happened to be the weekend William went skiing and "dancing" with his mates and caused a bit of a stir on the home front by missing a Commonwealth Day service.)
The duchess was also spotted last month visiting Pippa's West London home amid a flurry of wedding-prep activity—their mom and a milliner (get ready for hat central Saturday) had just been at the house before Kate arrived.
Will and Kate have also met Pippa's future in-laws, having had dinner last month with the betrothed couple, James' parents and the groom's younger brother, Spencer (a reality TV alum from Made in Chelsea whom many eyes will be on at the wedding). When Pippa and James announced their engagement last July, Kate and William said they were "absolutely delighted with the news."
About 150 guests are expected at the wedding. Michael Middleton is expected to walk Pippa down the aisle, as he did with Kate. After the ceremony at St. Mark's, the bride's parents will be hosting a reception at their sprawling estate in Bucklebury.
A source close to designer Giles Deacon's team (he hasn't been officially confirmed as Pippa's wedding dress designer, but he's the reigning favorite) tells E! News that the gown is "very simple, elegant and it's all handmade."
David Emmanuel, who designed Princess Diana's wedding gown in 1981, told the Daily Mail that he thought Pippa should wear "the complete opposite of Kate, just so she makes her own statement really. Soft and pretty."