“A Plastic Princess”? Award-Winning Author Hilary Mantel Attacked Over Kate Middleton Comments

British novelist Hilary Mantel has sparked controversy in the British press for her remarks about Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge.

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Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge visits the Hope House residential treatment centre in London
Mary Turner / Reuters

The Duchess of Cambridge pays an official visit to the Hope House residential treatment center, run by Action on Addiction for recovering addicts in London on Feb. 19, 2013.

British novelist Hilary Mantel, winner of two Man Booker Prizes for her novels Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies, has sparked controversy in the British press for her remarks about Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge.

Early in February, Mantel was invited to give a lecture at the British Museum by the London Review of Books . Her chosen topic: the Royal Body, a subject she is somewhat au fait with given that her two biggest novels focus on the life of Thomas Cromwell, chief minister to Henry VIII.

(MOREKate Middleton Baby Bump Photos Published — Royal Family Is Not Pleased)

The lecture gained little press until a few British papers picked up on some of the remarks in her speech following its publication on the LRB website. The Daily Mail ran the story on its front page on Tuesday, with the headline “A Plastic Princess Designed to Breed,” and describing Mantel’s words as “an astonishing and venomous attack on the Duchess of Cambridge.” The Daily Telegraph too voiced criticism. Jake Wallis Simons, a features writer for the paper commented that the speech “clearly bears the potential to cause the Duchess of Cambridge to become increasingly painfully thin” — lambasting Mantel for her insensitivity.

Even Prime Minister David Cameron was drawn into the debate, remarking while on a trip to India that Mantel’s comments were “completely misguided.” St. James’ Palace has declined to comment on the speech.

Mantel’s defenders, however, insist her statements were taken out of context. The British press appeared to miss the point of Mantel’s lecture, they say. The LRB tweeted on Tuesday that “What Mantel really wrote is about how the media make the royals suffer.” Fans of the Duchess, however, are not convinced. Ingrid Seward, the editor of Majesty Magazine, told the BBC that Mantel “must have known when she wrote this very carefully crafted lecture, that people would pick up on [the statements]. It’s a veiled attack on Catherine.”

(MOREWill and Kate’s Baby: Could Britain Change Its 300-Year-Old Succession Laws?)

Mantel, as a writer who is described by the New York Times as ‘wickedly funny’ (and whose two Tudor books were both on TIME’s Best Books of the Year lists), is no doubt deliberate with her words. Her 5,650-word lecture does explore the idea that the royal body, such as Kate Middleton’s, exists simply to be scrutinized by the public, but it is as much a criticism of that scrutiny. At the close of her essay she makes a telling request: “I’m asking us to back off,” she said, “and not be brutes.”

MORE: Hilary Mantel Continues Her Bloody Brilliant Tudor Saga With Bring Up the Bodies

13 comments
CliveHolland1
CliveHolland1

Why do you keep referring to her as Kate Middleton. She is a married woman. You do this every week. It is exceptionally rude. Do you refer to Mrs Obama by her maiden name? I bet you don't.

Medea
Medea

The real problem might lie in the fact that 'out of context' comment has hit the nail on the head.

SaraLee
SaraLee

Why people are not jealous to JK Rowling ? People still stick to the traditional virtue .

Kate Middleton took the marriage with William as her" Project ", and the Middleton family  is said to borrow big loan in order to make their kids to squash the upper class . There are too many lies from them , one of liers is they are not wealthy family at all .

Kate used different men's money on clothes and holidays before William, the behave is far away from a normal standard .

Kate Middleton drives people's anger already .

EricBoost
EricBoost

We care about what one rich lady we don't know says about another rich lady we don't know...why? BACK TO WORK PEOPLE!

mrbomb13
mrbomb13

Kate Middleton is as much of a plastic princess as Michelle Obama is a black version of Barbie.

roknsteve
roknsteve

So will Hilary Mandel end up dead in a tunnel in France?  Or maybe they will wall her up in a room to die like they did to get the throne  in the first place.

ertdfg
ertdfg

Hilary Mantel, a 300 pound woman with crooked teeth and a face that sticks out a country mile... thinks women shouldn't look attractive, and if they do they're superficial and wrong for doing so.  

AND that women should in fact NOT bear children... which begs the question how children would come to be... or if she's familiar with the process involved.

And in other news, Sour Grapes happen to be a bit on the tart side.


voterfraud
voterfraud

Lord, who the heck cares?!? Boo hoo, won't somebody think of the poor royals... I'm sure the press saying a few nasty things about them totally cancels out the fact they are given millions of state dollars for doing absolutely nothing worthwhile.

lucyanstruther
lucyanstruther

The royal family needs a plastic princess right now. The last princess who wasn't "plastic" ended up dead in a tunnel. They need a girl to follow their rules and play their game. should she ever go rogue like diana, god help her

duck
duck

@ertdfg ...or just commenting on the weird and outdated tradition that is royalty