Category: Entertainment / February 19, 2013 11:37 AM EST
One of Britain's most celebrated authors has launched a withering attack on Kate Middleton, the pregnant wife of Prince William, branding her a "shop-window mannequin" with a plastic smile whose only role in life is to breed.
In an unusually scathing public attack on a British royal, Hilary Mantel said the princess had no personality, a "perfect plastic smile" and appears to have been designed by a committee.
"I saw Kate becoming a jointed doll on which certain rags are hung. In those days she was just a shop-window mannequin, with no personality of her own, entirely defined by what she wore," Mantel said in a lecture at the British Museum in London earlier this month in which she spoke about her changing views about the princess.
"These days as a mother-to-be, she's draped in another set of threadbare attributions," she added.
The writer's comments sharply divided public opinion. Newspapers condemned Mantel's words as "venomous", "cruel" and "staggeringly rude", while supporters said it was a thoughtful analysis of the role of royal women over the centuries.
Mantel, who last year became the first Briton to twice win the coveted Man Booker prize for fiction, referred to the princess's severe morning sickness during the early stage of her pregnancy and said her role was to provide an heir.
"Once she gets over being sick, the press will decide she is radiant. And they will find this young woman's life 'til now was nothing, her only point and purpose, like other royal ladies we'll come to, her only point and purpose being to give birth," Mantel said in the lecture organised by the London Review of Books on February 4. The literary magazine reprinted the lecture on its website this week.
Mantel also compared the Duchess of Cambridge with William's late mother, Princess Diana.
"Kate seems to have been selected for her role of princess because she was irreproachable: as painfully thin as anyone could wish, without quirks, without oddities, without the risk of the emergence of character. Machine-made, precision-made, so different from Diana whose human awkwardness and emotional incontinence showed in her every gesture," Mantel said.
The way Kate appeared in her first official portrait, painted by Paul Emsley and unveiled at London's National Portrait Gallery in January, was also the subject of Mantel's criticism.
"Her eyes are dead and she wears the strained smile of a woman who really wants to tell the painter to bugger off," Mantel said.
A smiling Duchess of Cambridge showed no sign of being affected by the row when she visited an addiction charity in London on Tuesday (February 19). Wearing a grey wrap dress, she crossed her hands over her small baby bump as she chatted to charity workers.
Well-wishers who waited in the late winter sunshine for a glimpse of her expressed sympathy.
"I don't think that Kate is plastic. She's a normal human being, and...she's very beautiful, you know," said one man.
Another supporter said Mantel's comments were "absolutely false".
"I mean...how can you judge somebody? She's a young princess, you know, and everyone should just give her a chance," she said.
Mantel is best known for her historical novel "Wolf Hall", about the rise of blacksmith's son Thomas Cromwell to the pinnacle of power in King Henry VIII's court. Her follow-up "Bring Up the Bodies" recounted Anne Boleyn's fall from grace.
(Video Source: Reuters)