Before she was part of the royal family, Princess Kate Middleton was part of a party planning empire — sort of.

Kate’s parents, Carole and Michael Middleton, owned Party Pieces, a party planning and supplies brand which they founded in 1987.

“Whether you want to create a children’s party they’ll remember long after they blow out the candles, or throw a hen do dinner so fun it earns a mention in the wedding speeches, Party Pieces is here to help,” the brand’s website reads (important to note, it seems that the site’s language has not been adjusted since COVID-19). “We curate the most attractive, best value party decorations, games and tableware, and if you’re celebrating at a distance, we can deliver personalized cakes, balloons and banners to your loved one’s doorstep.”

Party Pieces noted that their “party expertise” is here to “turn a milestone into a memory.”

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Carole and Michael owned the company until news broke in May 2023 that they were forced to sell following a financial collapse. Nearly a year after they sold the company, a source told Us Weekly exclusively that Kate’s parents are “desperately” trying to shield her from debt. (U.K.’s The Times reported in April 2024 that Carole and Michael can’t come up with the “£260,000 — over $329,000 — insolvency firm costs” for Party Pieces.)

Inside the Financial Fall of the Middleton Family Party Planning Company

Carole Middleton and Michael Middleton.
Karwai Tang/WireImage

“Carole is desperately trying to keep Catherine fully focused on her recovery,” the insider tells Us, referring to Kate’s cancer treatments that she began in February 2024. “It’s a very worrying time for the family but they are not looking for any assistance from their children and don’t want them to worry.”

Keep reading for everything to know about Kate’s parents and their failed party planning business:

What Is Party Pieces?

The company offered party supplies for all types of events, even launching their very own Party Pieces Collection in 2021 that was “thoughtfully designed, taking into account what makes celebrations memorable and aiming to embrace the spirit of entertaining; with show-stopping pieces that immediately give the wow factor when guests walk into the room,” according to the company’s website.

Inside the Financial Fall of the Middleton Family Party Planning Company

Carole Middleton and Michael Middleton.
ANDREW MILLIGAN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Why Did Kate Middleton’s Parents Sell Party Pieces?

In May 2023, it was widely reported that Carole and Michael sold Party Pieces to entrepreneur James Sinclair for an undisclosed amount of money. The BBC revealed at the time that the couple ran “into difficulties” and their business was “put into administration and immediately sold” to Sinclair’s Teddy Tastic Bear Company.

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How Much Money in Debt Was Party Pieces?

Tatler reported in May 2023 the time that Party Pieces was over £2.5 million (over $3 million) in debt. “Due to the company’s cash flow challenges and inability to secure additional funding, rescuing the company … is not achievable,” a report filed to Companies House stated, per the publication.

A breakdown of the money woes reported that the company owed £612,685 (over $775, 000) to HM Revenue and Customs, £218,749 (over $277,000) to the Royal Bank of Scotland for a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan, £456,008 (over $577,000) to various creditors and £1.4 million (over $1.7 million) in unsecured loans.