The parents of the Princess of Wales have been targeted by a malicious poster campaign in their home village, according to reports.
Posters were put up on trees and lampposts around Carole and Michael Middleton’s home in Bucklebury, Berkshire, over the administration of the couple’s party goods business, Party Pieces.
The Princess’s younger brother, James, who lives nearby to his parents, is said to have been enraged by the posters, and was reportedly seen to be taking them down.
It is said that the malicious campaign could be the response of angry suppliers who have been left out of pocket by the company’s closure after it became insolvent during the pandemic.
The Middletons’ party goods business, which was founded in 1987, was bought earlier this summer through a device known as pre-pack authorisation.
This means that the prospective buyer agrees to buy an insolvent company provided it goes into administration first, enabling the buyer to come to an arrangement with creditors, who may receive less than they are owed.
James Middleton and his wife Alizee – Samir Hussein/Wireimage
Party Pieces Holdings, the parent company of the firm that once employed the Princess, 41, had racked up a deficit of more than £2 million before it was bought by Teddy Tastic Bear, one of several businesses owned by entrepreneur James Sinclair.
The business suffered as parties were banned during the pandemic lockdowns, losing £285,000 in 2021, according to publicly available accounts.
Kate’s parents Carole, 68, and Michael, 74, failed to find new investors in the business or a buyer that was willing to take on the company with the entirety of the debt.
Now some suppliers want the couple to pay the Party Pieces debts, which reached £2.6 million in the summer, out of their own pockets.
A source from the village told The Sun on Sunday: “Carole and Michael are incredibly popular. Everyone is horrified by these posters.
“It’s unfair to do this in their home village, just yards from where they live.
“Their son James lives nearby and so does Pippa [their other daughter] who has moved around there recently with her family so they all have to be confronted by this.”
The source added: “They are doing their best to make things right and don’t deserve this kind of abuse.”
Village of Bucklebury where poster have been displayed – Geoffrey Swaine/Geoffrey Swaine/Shutterstock
James Middleton, 36, lives in the area with his pregnant wife, Alizee, 33, and the family are regularly visited by their eldest daughter and Prince William.
The former success of Party Pieces previously enabled the Middletons to move from the Victorian semi-detached home where the Princess was born to a larger property nearby.
It eventually enabled them to buy a Grade II listed Georgian manor house in the village of Bucklebury, which they bought for £4.7 million in 2012.
The company was started at the couple’s kitchen table in the 80s, selling decorations and sweet treats for children’s parties from catalogues.
Internet transformed sales
The internet transformed their sales, and their website began selling thousands of different party-related products.
Party Pieces helped the couple put their three children – Kate, James and Pippa – all through school at Marlborough College, which costs more than £40,000 per year.
However, a move to expand the company into America with a US supermarket chain failed to turn its fortunes around after the pandemic, and two of its three investors resigned as directors earlier this year.
The Middletons then hired Interpath Advisory, a consultancy, to help find a buyer in March.
In May, the consultancy said two of its staff were appointed as administrators and the sale to Teddy Tastic Bear was formalised.
Mrs Middleton was said by a friend to be “desperately sad” to see the company struggle under “a new management team” and friends claimed she was aiming to make sure creditors were paid.
However, the administrator’s report made it clear that creditors, which included small companies supplying party goods, were unlikely to be repaid the cash they are owed.
Will Wright, head of restructuring at Interpath Advisory and joint administrator, previously said: “Party Pieces is a well-established brand with a proud British heritage, but like many other companies across the retail space, had been impacted profoundly by the effects of the pandemic and the ensuing restrictions on social gatherings.”
James Middleton has been contacted by the Telegraph for comment.
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