Opinion: Kate Middleton’s Brother’s Dead Dog Gets a Book Deal, and It’s Not Even a Corgi

Max Mumby/Getty Images
Max Mumby/Getty Images

One can only imagine the reaction among publishing executives when the manuscript for James Middleton’s new book—about his dead dog, Ella—plopped into their inboxes.

Did the brother of the Princess of Wales even need to pitch Meet Ella; The Dog Who Saved My Life, one wonders? Or did he simply announce, having gazed into the abyss of his soul, “What the world truly needs right now is Kate’s brother’s dog’s biography,” and wait for the contract to arrive?

Maybe that is unfair. Maybe the publishing execs at independent U.K. publishing house Pegasus really were so swept away (as they claim to be in a press release sent out this week) by James’ “wonderfully heartwarming celebration” of “human-animal connection” with his glossy black cocker spaniel that they offered him a deal on the spot.

We should not forget, of course, that James has spoken eloquently on the matter of his dog supporting his recovery from a mental health crisis. When he began therapy, he overcame his reluctance to attend sessions by taking his dog with him to every session, for example.

There is a mountain of clinical evidence proving James’ point. It is beyond dispute that the company of dogs benefits most humans mental health; one definitive paper, published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research entitled, “Pet ownership and human health: a brief review of evidence and issues,” for example, found strong evidence that dogs can have a positive impact on mental health, particularly in reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Maybe James’ insights into the life and death of his four-legged companion (which died in January 2023) are a valuable contribution to the genre, and simply too compelling to ignore.

Or maybe the executives took a hard-nosed commercial decision and thought: “Well, the last book by a Middleton sibling, Pippa Middleton’s Celebrate, which gave people guidelines on making ice and suggested turkey was a good choice for ‘larger gatherings,’ was a disaster, a staggering testament to nepotism, stupidity and venality, so what are the chances of lightning striking twice?”

Anyway, the book is written and, come September, can be yours for just $29, so get ready for a moving account of Ella chewing royal furniture, Ella getting her muddy paws on multiple future monarchs, and James and Ella’s “many adventures, from Scottish mountain sides to royal weddings”—even though there is no evidence that Ella ever attended a royal wedding. It’s not surprising the marketing folks threw that one in there because without Kate, everyone knows this book would be just another unloved mutt in the literary pound.

Presumably James is hoping his new book will be a money spinner, an eventuality which would, it must be said, be against the run of form of his underwhelming entrepreneurial career thus far.

There was, as even attentive Middleton-watchers may struggle to recall, Boomf!—a personalized marshmallow delivery service because who hasn’t woken up at 3 AM craving a marshmallow with their face on it? The ailing business was put into administration by James before being sold. It was later rescued and continues to trade.

There was the Cake Kit Company. This venture sent—also to your door!— “pre-measured” ingredients and cake-baking instructions. It didn’t work out, but in fairness, who could have guessed that people who love baking might actually be capable of measuring out their own flour?

His latest business is James & Ella, a premium dog food company serving up gourmet pet cuisine. It’s inspired by you know who, so maybe the new book will have a chapter on Ella’s contempt for supermarket kibble.

The whirring sound you can hear? Why, it is Queen Elizabeth II, who was so dismayed by Pippa’s book that she banned her from doing any interviews, spinning in her crypt.

Royal adjacent siblings have always been an issue for the monarchy. Publishing the profound musings of individuals whose greatest claim to fame is sharing DNA with a duchess rarely turns out well and opens the family up to claims of tawdry profiteering.

Not so long ago, royals were barred from cashing in on their status, other than a modest tea towel enterprise at Christmas, maybe.

But there has been a notable collapse in family discipline since Charles took over; from Harry’s memoir Spare, to podcasts and appearances on reality shows, romance novels and even flogging milk to the Chinese, the cast of royal hangers-on are back to their old tricks.

There is a simple word for it; nepotism. King Charles should do all he can to stamp it out as effectively as his mother did.

There is nothing wrong with James Middleton loving his dog and wanting to tell people how great dogs can be for your mental health. He is a proud and effective ambassador for the Pets As Therapy charity, and a volunteer for The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association and Dogs Trust. But one can’t help thinking that when the words “I’m thinking of writing a book,” are uttered in the royal or Middleton households, the response should always be a firm, “Don’t.”

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