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By Kat Giantis
As the world keeps a watchful eye on Duchess Kate's midsection, her little sister, Pippa Middleton, could be edging close to landing an eligible British gentleman of her own.
The London Sun says the world's most famous bridesmaid, 28, is dating longtime chum George Percy, 27, a trust-funded Earl who stands to inherit a $400 million-plus fortune that includes the castle used as a stand-in for Hogwarts in the "Harry Potter" movies.
"George is very smitten and completely in love with her," says a source.
The pair met years before while students at Edinburgh University and have been romantically linked several times in the past. Last year, they brushed off hookup rumors that began after Pippa split from her banker boyfriend of two years, Alex Loudon.
They downplayed that they were just pals, despite being photographed enjoying a boat ride during a trip to Spain last summer and spending a weekend shooting grouse at Percy's country estate in November.
Love apparently sparked on New Year's Eve during a party thrown by Pippa, an event planner, at the Middleton family home (Prince William and Duchess Kate were among the guests).
"Pippa sat herself next to George at supper and made sure she was hanging off his arm all night. And then she made her move," relays the drama-disposed source. "It was like a shark circling its bait. Some people think she has always set out to do this."
The manner-born, fair-haired Percy is heir to the venerable title of Duke of Northumberland and is part of a clan who owns the majestic Alnwick Castle (better known as Hogwarts to Muggles like us).
When he was 14, his father reportedly petitioned to delay his inheritance, so instead of being handed a bundle of cash when he turned 18, he had to wait until he was 25, a tactic meant to ensure that he wouldn't become a royal casualty on the party scene.
The move appears to have worked: Percy heads up a business focused on renewable energy. Speaking of renewable, the future Duke stands poised to take over a longstanding estate that includes 100,000 acres, 100 farms, a Surrey spread and a London mansion.
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