Pippa escaping trouble from pistol picture gaffe?

(CBS News) There's been no indication that French authorities police are contemplating any legal action against Pippa Middleton, Prince William's sister-in-law, after she was photographed with a man who appeared to be pointing a gun at a photographer.

Put a royal-relative, a gun and a paparazzi photographer in the same sentence and people are going to pay attention. And that's what happened. The royal relative is Pippa Middleton, Kate's sister. The episode took place in Paris --- yes, where Diana died. Luckily this time, everything was not quite what it seemed.

The fuss is about a series of pictures taken in Paris of Middleton cruising with some friends -- one of whom appears to pull a gun, and point it at the chasing photographer. What's more, Middleton and her friends seem to find the scene amusing. It would be a serious matter in a country where brandishing a weapon is illegal. And it would certainly raise the tension between celebrities and the pursuing paparazzi to a new level.

But, in fact, according to the French celebrity magazine, Gala, the photographer involved knew the gun was plastic -- a kind of joke that he was in on. No harm done. Or was it?

(Watch below, Newsweek and Daily Beast editor-in-chief Tina Brown weighs in on the Pippa photo.)

Middleton is not a royal herself, but by being Kate's sister and photogenic, she's been a star since the royal wedding where she wore that dress. Since then she's become one of the world's prime paparazzi targets. She can't help it if her picture sells magazines.

But being connected with the royals is not a joke. Royal commentator Ingrid Seward said, "Certainly I think her sister Kate will be saying 'Pippa this is idiotic.' And I'm sure Mrs. Middleton will be very displeased with her daughter for bringing the royal family into potential disrepute."

As for reaction from the royals, they're trying to run as far away from this story as they possibly can. Pippa's not a royal they say, we're not responsible for her actions.

A stunt like the one in Paris causes people to recall other royal gaffs. Prince Harry as a Nazi at a costume party in his younger days, and Sarah, Dutchess of York, trying to sell access to her ex-husband Prince Andrew. It's not good.

  • Mark Phillips

    Mark Phillips is CBS News senior foreign correspondent, based in London.