British author calls Kate 'shop-window mannequin'

Last Updated 19 February 2013, 13:37 IST

One of the most celebrated British novelists has launched a scathing attack on Kate Middleton, describing her a "shop-window mannequin" with a "plastic smile".

Hilary Mantel, 60-year-old double Booker prize winning author, launched the unusually withering public attack on the 31-year-old wife of second-in-line to the British throne Prince William and said the impression of future queen was "jointed doll on which rags are hung".

She said Kate had neither the personality of William's mother Diana nor Anne Boleyn – one of her historical heroines during the London Review of Books' lecture entitled 'Undressing Anne Boleyn' two weeks ago and reprinted this week in the London Review of Books literary journal.

"She appears precision-made, machine-made, so different from Diana whose human awkwardness and emotional incontinence showed in her every gesture."

Before marrying Prince William, she was a "shop-window mannequin, with no personality of her own, entirely defined by what she wore.

These days she is a mother-to-be, and draped in another set of threadbare attributions... her only point and purpose being to give birth," she said, sparking outrage with some newspapers branding the words "venomous" and "cruel".

While Daily Mail described Mantel's comments as an "astonishing and venomous attack on the Duchess of Cambridge", others agreed with her, saying she had elegantly articulated what many people had long thought about the royals.

Nick Barton, chief executive of Action on Addiction, one of the charities supported by the princess, came out in her defence as she carried out her first official engagement of the year here this morning with a visit to Hope House, which deals with victims of drugs and alcohol.
"I can only speak of what I know, and having met the Duchess several times I find her to be engaging, natural and genuinely interested in the subject... She is also an intelligent woman," he said.

Mantel, who last year became the first Briton to twice win the coveted Man Booker prize for fiction, is best known for her historical novel Wolf Hall and her follow-up, Bring Up the Bodies, recounted Anne Boleyn's fall from grace during Henry VII's reign.

During her lecture, she said the Duchess of Cambridge was "selected for her role... because she was irreproachable", contrasting her with the "emotional incontinence" of Princess Diana.
"As painfully thin as anyone could wish, without quirks, without oddities, without the risk of the emergence of character," she said.

A spokesperson for Mantel said the speech was not a criticism but "remarkably sympathetic", with the author speaking about royal women as victims of their predicament.


(Published 19 February 2013, 13:27 IST)

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