Poor Pippa.

You really have to feel for this girl sometimes. Apparently her much-scrutinized on-again-off-again romance is off, for good:

She is one of the most desirable women in the world, the beautiful younger sister of the future Queen of England with an appealingly mischievous glint in her eye.

So when it was reported last week that Pippa Middleton had split from her boyfriend, Alex Loudon, it was naturally assumed it was Pippa who called time on their relationship. After all, she has no shortage of suitors.

Yet, in news that will surely astonish starry-eyed bachelors everywhere, The Mail on Sunday has learned it was in fact Alex who, after one-and-a-half years together, decided to end things.

According to a friend of both Alex and Pippa, the 31-year-old former England cricketer could no longer cope with the ‘circus’ that accompanies his girlfriend everywhere she goes.

The friend said: ‘The plain truth is Alex adored Pippa but he couldn’t stand the circus that now surrounds her. Nothing is straightforward anymore.’

Inordinately private, with impeccable manners, the Old Etonian simply hated the attention . . . attention that Pippa appears to rather enjoy.

Another family friend said: ‘Pippa sees the connection with the Royal Family as a golden opportunity but she knows she cannot afford to look vulgar.

‘She now gets invited to every show in town, every door is open to her but Alex hates parties. He loves his cricket and has a very close-knit circle of Old Etonian friends. Alex comes from a very well-to-do and discreet family who do not relish the spotlight.

‘He hated the fact they were followed by paparazzi and he avoided going out because of it. Alex is very strait-laced. He loves his family and his friends and has no time for celebrity.’

But that is what Pippa has now become. And her whirl of society balls and Tatler magazine covers is a world away from the social life of the Loudons, a family which comes from a line of baronets, admirals and statesmen.

Alex’s father, James, is a successful financier and former High Sheriff of Kent. Chairman of Caledonia Investments in London, he is also deputy chairman of the governors of the University of Greenwich and a trustee of the Canterbury Cathedral Trust.

Last night a member of Pippa’s circle said her friends were not surprised the courtship had come to an end.

The friend said: ‘Alex’s parents were welcoming but they were always somewhat lukewarm about the relationship. They didn’t see Pippa as ‘wife material’. James and his wife Jane both come from very good families.

‘Pippa is very sweet but she is socially ambitious – all her friends are so “trophy posh” it’s ridiculous. They didn’t honestly see Alex and Pippa’s relationship as a long-term thing.

‘James and Jane are very old-fashioned and prefer to keep things low-key.

‘They do not go out of their way to court attention for themselves and they tend to shy away from the media – even when James was High Sheriff he took on the roles and responsibilities but didn’t attempt to promote himself. They’re a very “proper” family.’

Alex’s grandfather Francis, a barrister, married Lady Prudence Jellicoe, daughter of Admiral Sir John Henry Rushworth Jellicoe, the first Earl of Jellicoe.

Lady Prudence was an indefatigable early champion of single mothers, serving as the chairman of the National Council For The Unmarried Mother And Her Child from 1958 to 1968.

Lord Jellicoe was the admiral who commanded the Royal Navy’s Grand Fleet at the Battle of Jutland in the First World War and became the second Governor-General of New Zealand.

He is buried at St Paul’s Cathedral. He married Florence Cayzer, sister of the 1st Baron Rotherwick, the British shipping magnate and Conservative politician.

The family estate, Olantigh Towers, was bought by Francis in 1935. Just outside the Kent village of Wye, the mile-long drive meanders through landscaped gardens while prized Sussex cattle roam 20 acres of surrounding farmland.

The River Stour runs through the grounds, which include stable blocks and an ornamental footbridge.

Ah yes. Worthies indeed.

So, in not so many words: She’s tacky, flashy, nouveau-riche, no title, no breeding…in short, gauche. Never mind that her family has more than enough ready cash to send their scions to the “best” schools, and never blench at what it must cost. Never mind that her sister married the future king, or that Pippa, though not royal herself, is now known as “Her Royal Hotness”. Never mind that her very bottom has its own fan club, fergawdsakes! None of that really matters. What matters is coming from the Right Sort of People. And on that, there can be no compromise: Pippa’s just not posh enough for the real toffs of Old England.

It doesn’t help her, either, to have everything she says, does, eats, wears and poops endlessly dissected by the tabloids. Even while dating Alex exclusively, Pippa was still deemed the most eligible bachelorette in the world. Worse, she and Kate were dubbed the Wisteria Sisters, after a beautiful, ornamental flowering vine that happens to be horribly invasive…and apt to climb all over everything like the Creeping Curse of Kudzu. And let’s not forget all those old pictures of Pippa, doubtless drunk as a lord, as she partied the night away in her skivvies. Things like that are certain to embarrass a class-bound old-money family, who rely on discretion to help them avoid the peasant revolt which we know is going to get them, sooner or later.

And with the way the world is going (especially in England, which is currently rolling from one financial crisis to another), that could be VERY soon. In which case even the best-off of the middle class — uh, that would be the Middletons — will end up back with the peasants in more ways than one.

Poor Pippa just wouldn’t get a look-in, with all that going against her. So now she’s doomed to stay on the party circuit until further notice. Until her spray tan starts to look pasty, her glossy curls lose their lustre, her fascinator starts to wilt, and her eyeliner runs off to join the navy.

But hey…at least she almost got to be the Rear of the Year. They can’t take that away from her.