All eyes were on the Middleton family when Kate Middleton won the heart of Britain’s most eligible bachelor, Prince William. The couple dazzled with what could only be compared to a fairy tale romance, and their wedding brought out all the bells and whistles, making for a magical day. But if one unexpected person caught the eye of the world during the royal wedding, it was Pippa Middleton, Kate’s younger sister.
Since her dazzling entrance at her sister’s wedding, the public has been fixated on all things Pippa Middleton — people have followed her fashion sense, her lifestyle, and her romances in what feels like a comparable amount of attention to her sister, and as such, were introduced to Pippa’s husband, James Matthews.
Unlike his brother-in-law who just so happens to be the heir to the British throne and, as such, is under a constant spotlight, Matthews has kept a low profile. With no massive social media following or press tour following him at all times, Matthews has stayed under the radar. So who is the man who stole Pippa Middleton’s heart? Here’s the truth about Pippa Middleton’s husband, James Matthews.
Pippa Middleton's husband was a race car driver
We’ll admit it, there is something insanely attractive about race car drivers. Maybe it’s the thrill of high speed races or the tight fitting jumpsuits they wear, but they’ve all got a little something going on. And that clearly was the case for James Matthews, who was a stellar race car driver in his younger days. As noted by the Daily Mail, Pippa Middleton’s husband won the British and European Formula Renault championships in 1994, at the young age of 18. He was so talented behind the wheel that he beat racing icon Alain Prost, who had a record-breaking 10 consecutive wins.
Matthews went on to win 17 out of the 22 championship races in which he appeared in 1994 alone, so it came as no surprise that there were rumors he was going to make the jump to the Formula 1 circuit. “James was a fantastic driver and very, very talented,” Manor Motorsport founder John Booth told the Daily Mail. “But he looked at the probability of making it as a Formula 1 driver, and took a pragmatic decision to go into the City.”
After his career in racing, James Matthews became a hedge fund manager
James Matthews quickly realized after his successful career as a race car driver that there was opportunity elsewhere, so he headed for the city and to the financial arena. As noted by the Daily Mail, Matthews rose to business success fairly quickly and became the senior equity options trader for a financial house called Nordic Options. Shortly after, at just 24 years old, he said goodbye to Nordic Options and branched off on his own, starting his own firm.
So what exactly is a hedge fund? We had to look it up. As Investopedia puts it, hedge funds are “alternative investments using pooled funds that employ different strategies to earn active returns … for their investors.” It sounds complicated. But Matthews was (and still is) clearly very well equipped to handle the business.
“James is a very bright guy who has worked incredibly hard from a very early age,” a friend told the Daily Mail. “He made a huge amount of cash from hedge funds, and quite a lot more in the London property market. I’m talking tens of millions. You don’t do that by 40 unless you’re a sharp cookie.”
He might not be royal, but James Matthews' family owns a castle
Pippa Middleton is probably used to visiting her sister in Kensington Palace, but her husband’s family owns their own castle too (we’re starting to think that everyone in Britain just owns a castle). As noted by Express, James Matthews’ family owns the 10,000-acre Glen Affric estate, which is located in Scotland. Casual. If you want a taste of the stately life, you can rent the estate for a luxurious getaway.
As noted by the Observer, the rates start at $16,900 during its peak season (we’ll give you a moment to catch your breath after reading that price). Only one group of 20 guests total can rent it at a given time, so even if you rent it out for just yourself (which, please don’t; invite us too), you’ll have access to the entire eight-bedroom, five-bathroom lodge and the three-bedroom cottage. The castle is fairly remote and is a 45-minute car ride away from the nearest city, Inverness, Scotland, so you’ll want to invite some friends with you. Plus, who is going to film you running around a Victorian castle in a ballgown if you don’t take at least one other person along for the ride?
Pippa Middleton's in-laws have humble beginnings
One of the biggest aspects of Kate Middleton’s life that grabbed the hearts of Great Britain’s people was her commoner origins, and her sister’s husband, James Matthews, also comes from humble beginnings. As noted by the Daily Mail, James’ father, David, started his career as a car mechanic and worked his way up to financial success in the industry. David’s father before him was a coal miner, so they’re definitely a rags-to-riches family. James’ mother, Jane Parker, was born in Rhodesia (present day Zimbabwe) and is an artist (via the Telegraph). Talk about working your way to the top.
But like many families in the spotlight, the Matthews family has had its fair share of drama, the parents included. In 2018, David was questioned by French police in regards to an alleged attack and rape which took place in the late 1990s. As noted by The Telegraph, David called the allegations against him “untrue and scandalous,” but was still put under formal investigation, meaning that there may have been some kind of “serious or consistent evidence” against him. Yikes.
James Matthews keeps a low profile, but his brother definitely does not
We all have that one sibling who made a bold name for themselves, and James Matthews has just that. His brother, Spencer Matthews, is a reality television star in the United Kingdom, and as noted by the Telegraph, he came to a level of fame when he revealed that he had sexual relations with more than 1,000 people before the age of 27. Yeah… do with that what you will.
Spencer revealed in his autobiography, Confessions of a Chelsea Boy, that aside from his sexual antics, he got into cocaine and LSD in his wild days and spent every night for months in bars, clubs, and parties. He also noted in the book that he “enjoyed countless casual sexual liaisons,” as reported by the Daily Mail. Very different from his brother James, that’s for sure.
But interestingly enough, Spencer once shared that he inherited his flirtatious ways from his brother. Speaking about all of his siblings, Spencer said, “As a boy, I wanted Nina’s heart of gold, Mike’s general character, and James’s girlfriends,” as noted by The Tab. There is just so much to unpack here.
Pippa Middleton's husband runs this very lucrative business
When James Matthews left the race car world, he clearly departed with a lot of ambition because his hedge fund firm took off. As noted by the Daily Mail, Matthews’ business was responsible for over $177 million worth of investments by 2004 and had skyrocketed to $1.5 billion by 2007. Yes, billion, with a “b.” Matthews named his firm Eden Rock Capital Management LLP after the luxury hotel his parents own in St. Barths, so yes, it’d seem that Matthews leads a lavish life.
But just how many people in the United States know that many rich individuals do what they can to avoid paying taxes, Matthews’ business found some loopholes in the United Kingdom. The Daily Mail included in its report that the company had paid just over $4,200 in taxes in 2014, which, by all reasonable accounts, is not great. “[James’] stake in Eden Capital and the money he potentially has taken out over the last 16 years could make him a demi-billionaire or close to a billionaire on his own merits,” David Friedman, the co-founder of WealthQuotient, said to E! News about the royal family’s in-law.
After his father passes away, James Matthews will inherit this title
Titles are a big thing in Britain. Meghan Markle became the Duchess of Sussex, Prince William is the Duke of Cambridge, and his mother, Diana Spencer, was Lady Diana Spencer before she even married into the royal family. Does everyone and their mother have a title in the United Kingdom? Well, no, but Pippa Middleton’s husband will inherit a title after his father passes away.
As noted by the Daily Mail, James Matthews’ father, David, is officially titled the Laird of Glen Affric. He is believed to have gained the title when he bought the Glen Affric estate in 2008, and as such, the title will be passed on to his eldest son at the time of his death.
So what exactly is a laird? According to Merriam-Webster, it’s a fancy Scottish title for someone who owns a considerable property. But in the earlier days of Europe, lairds had significant influence and even took charge in some of history’s most disturbing practices like witch hunting. So while we can’t see James burning witches at the stake, he is free to use the title in the entire British Commonwealth once he inherits it. Cool.
James Matthews continues to honor his brother who died in 1999
It seems like every family has endured a life-changing tragedy, and James Matthews suffered one of his family’s biggest heartbreaks in 1999, when his brother Michael passed away. Often referred to as Mike, the climber and thrill-seeker died while descending from the peak of Mount Everest at the young age of 22 — he was the youngest British man to ever scale the peak.
Described as “humble, generous, brave, quiet and yet always at the centre of a group in which laughter abounded,” Mike is remembered by his family and by the humanitarian work done through the Michael Matthews Foundation. As noted by the Daily Mail, James often takes part in charity events to raise money for the foundation, which focuses on educating children who live in remote areas. As Mike’s biography reads on the foundation’s website, his funeral — which took place at the Grosvenor Chapel — was full to the brim with hundreds of people in attendance.
In Spencer Matthews’ autobiography, he wrote, “With just a year and a half between them, [James] and Mike were the closest of friends. The loss was heartbreaking for James” (via The Sun). Michael’s body was never found.
Pippa Middleton's husband said no to college and followed this path instead
Gone are the days where an internship or apprenticeship could make up for a college degree. Honestly, bring that system back because college is way too expensive. And James Matthews clearly knew that staying in the traditional schooling system was not for him because, after his car racing days, he forewent the expected path to university and went straight into the job market. But despite saying bye to getting a four-year degree, Matthews still attended some pretty swanky schools.
As noted by the Daily Mail, Matthews was a student at Uppingham, a public school in Rutland that cost just over $45,000 a year. He also attended Eton College, the same school that both Prince William and Prince Harry attended. It was at Eton where he started flexing his skills as a go-kart driver, and as we know, he made it fairly far in the professional race car driving world (via The Tab).
But instead of going to university, Matthews opted to receive training as a trader at the firm Spear Leeds & Kellog, which is now owned by none other than Goldman Sachs. And given his wild business success, it’s clear that Matthews knew what he was doing.
James Matthews owned a home that once belonged to Nick Jonas
It seems like home buying is the thing to do if you have cash to burn (we’re just guessing, as we have no personal experience in the matter), and James Matthews has made a habit of purchasing some pretty extravagant homes. As noted by the Daily Mail, back in the early 2000s when we were wearing low rise skinny jeans and buying awful earrings from Claire’s, Matthews was buying a home across the street from the United States Embassy in Mayfair. He sold it a couple years later, and replaced it with a mansion located in Notting Hill that was once owned by none other than Nick Jonas (be still our Disney Channel hearts).
Matthews clearly wanted to expand his housing horizons because he went back to the housing market in 2014, and purchased a property in Chelsea for over $23 million. The Daily Mail included that he had plans to “build a first-floor extension that will allow a ‘vanity basin’ complete with ‘his and hers sinks’ to be added to the bathroom, along with male and female dressing rooms off the master bedroom.” Fancy.
The Matthews family owns a lavish resort in St. Barths
What else is there to know about James Matthews now? Brace yourselves. His family owns one of the most lavish resorts in St. Barths. Here are the details. James’ father, David, arrived at the hotel after purchasing it and was soon met with disarray when it was severely damaged in a hurricane. As the Daily Mail put it, the Matthews spent two years refurbishing the property and restored it “to its former splendour.” The property is now ridiculously fancy, features 37 suites and villas, and, according to its website, “is an ideal destination for families, offering relaxation, play and pleasure.”
So what does the Matthews family life in St. Barths look like? According to the Daily Mail, “When there is nothing much to do in the afternoon [David] sets sail in his motor launch and goes fishing for tuna, with a decent bottle of Chardonnay in the cool box.” And the lifestyle clearly attracts guests because, as noted by the Daily Mail, celebrities including Beyoncé, Elton John, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Brad Pitt have stayed there. But be prepared to dish out the cash because the most expensive suite costs over $34,000 a night.
Like Pippa Middleton, James Matthews is very into sports
If this doesn’t motivate you to put on an at-home workout video, nothing will. As noted by a number of sources, James Matthews is very into sports and has taken part in some pretty grueling events. As reported by the Daily Mail, he competed in the Inferno Cross Country race in Switzerland in 2016, and the Birkebeiner ski race in Norway, which consisted of a 33-mile course from Rena to Lillehammer. To top it off, Matthews, along with the race’s 16,500 competitors, had to carry an almost 8-pound backpack to honor the story and tradition behind the race. (The race is dedicated to the rescue of 18-month-old Prince Haakon Haakonsson, hence the weighted backpack).
To top off an extremely active lifestyle, Matthews has competed in Otilo, Sweden’s 47-mile swimming and running competition, and is often seen out for runs around his Chelsea home (via Town & Country). So what does Matthews do when he isn’t skiing to the ends of the earth or swimming in what we can imagine is freezing cold water? He watches sporting events. He and Pippa Middleton have been spotted at Wimbledon on multiple occasions, supporting the tennis competition.
James Matthews landed in some hot water after this fraud investigation
You would have to live under a rock not to know that where there is big money there is big possibility for scandal, and James Matthews found himself in a sticky situation back in 2016. As noted by the Daily Record, Matthews was “a major investor in a collapsed company at the [center] of a £90 million fraud investigation.” What’s that in U.S. dollars? Over $120 million. Matthews used his position at Eden Rock Capital Management and invested just over $51 million in Heather Capital, controlled by financial figure Greg King.
As the Daily Record put it, Matthews “became concerned … and tried to pull his investment,” which, in turn, led to mediation talks that lasted for two days. Matthews eventually got his money back, and it’s a good thing he did because Heather Capital collapsed a couple years later and lost over $370 million as it went downhill. It’s alleged that about $121 million of that was stolen money. “James is a very proper person and he is simply not in a position to be able to discuss this,” a source told the Daily Record. “But anyone looking at the facts will see that his decision was the right one.”
Pippa Middleton's husband helped her brother after he went through a rough patch
We all would love to think that extended family would be there for us in sticky situations, and that was true of James Matthews. He jumped in and helped his brother-in-law, James Middleton, after he endured some personal losses. So what exactly happened to Middleton? Well, as noted by The Times, a couple things. Firstly, he lost a bunch of business after his “novelty marshmallow business” went under. Secondly, he split up with actress Donna Air, and by The Times’ estimation, his company lost about $4 million in just three years. Yikes.
But Matthews helped Pippa Middleton’s brother in a big way and got him employment at none other than Glen Affric Lodge, the property that the Matthews family owns. Middleton works as a hotel guide and, when hired, went to lengths to look the part. “A publicity photograph shows Mr Middleton, 31, wearing a deerstalker hat and tweeds, with binoculars around his neck,” The Times reported. “In another he is pictured entertaining guests at dinner.” When asked about Middleton’s new post, Matthews was pretty clear: “He’s a much better host than I am.”
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