(LONDON) — Photos of Pippa Middleton have made the sister-in-law of England’s presumptive future king a worldwide sensation, but nothing quite like the shot this weekend when she was snapped laughing as a male companion in a car pointed a gun at a photographer following them in Paris.
Middleton, 28, was in the passenger seat of an Audi convertible with three male friends Sunday when the driver allegedly reached for a what appeared to be a semi-automatic gun and jokingly aimed it at a paparazzi following them, London newspaper The Sun reported.
The image shows Middleton, the younger sister of the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, looking back at the paparazzo and grinning as her friend, the driver, reaches down and aims what appears to be the gun.
But now it appears that the excitement, which included reports that Pippa Middleton could face criminal charges, may have been overblown.
ABC News has learned that the photographer says he knew all along the gun was a fake and has been telling people he never felt scared. Even friends of one of the young fashionistas in the car told ABC News Monday that they have the toy gun in their possession.
The Sun had reported that the Paris Judicial Police department is “poised” to launch a probe into the incident, but police told ABC News that there is no investigation, because no one has filed a complaint.
Middleton was reportedly in Paris to attend a costume birthday party at the Chez Raspoutine as a guest of fashion label owner Arthur de Soultrait, also a passenger in the car when the gun incident occurred.
“Pippa is a party girl. She mixes now in very high society and they don’t come very higher than this group of French aristocratic sons,” the Sun‘s royal editor, Duncan Larcombe, said of the three men Middleton was photographed with.
Even if the flap blows over, it is a rare misstep for Middleton, who was dubbed “Her Royal Hotness” and became a target of paparazzi after she wowed onlookers as a bridesmaid at her sister’s wedding to Prince William last April.
It was revealed in January that lawyers for Middleton sent a cease-and-desist letter around to six media agencies that distribute paparazzi photographs worldwide. The letter was said to warn the agencies that unless their photographers stop following Middleton, she will pursue legal action, which could include an injunction and legal costs.
Just prior to the letter being sent, the picture editor for U.K.’s Daily Mail newspaper reported that 400 photographs of Middleton cross his desk every single day.
Middleton, who lives in London and works for her family’s party-planning business, was last said to be back in a serious romance with her old flame, George Percy, an heir to the Duke of Northumberland, one of Britain’s grandest and richest titles.
“Pippa has been photographed; she’s been coached on how to behave,” Larcombe said. “If she’s photographed by an unwanted freelance photographer, she smiles, she keeps her head up and she lets the lawyers doing the arguing behind the scenes. She knows much better than this.”
Buckingham Palace said it would not comment on the incident, since it does not officially represent Middleton because she is not a member of the royal family.
“I think often by what they’re not saying can often say more and I think there are some very nervous people behind the scenes right now,” Larcombe said.
“I think, in fairness to her [Pippa], it will be interesting to know whether she told this guy off after he’d done something as stupid as this or whether she thinks it was all a big joke because in the pictures, unfortunately for her, it does look as though she found the funny side of it,” he said.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Paul Cruickshank and Michael Pearson, CNN