Duchess Kate ‘critic’ Hilary Mantel claims she didn’t slam or shade Kate at all

Back in February, English author Hilary Mantel gave a speech about Duchess Kate which was widely covered and excerpted. Mantel seemed to be slamming Kate as “a jointed doll on which certain rags are hung… with no personality of her own, entirely defined by what she wore… painfully thin as anyone could wish, without quirks, without oddities, without the risk of the emergence of character… She appears precision-made, machine-made, so different from Diana whose human awkwardness and emotional incontinence showed in her every gesture.” Mantel compared Kate unfavorably to Anne Boleyn, saying that Boleyn had been “a power player, a clever and determined woman” but at the end of the day, a royal wife is “valued for her body parts, not her intellect or her soul; it was her womb that was central to her story… a royal lady is a royal vagina… at the most basic, they are breeding stock, collections of organs.”

Mantel’s comments were a big deal – Mantel is a respected and award-winning historical novelist (specializing in royal historical fiction) and most media outlets reported Mantel’s speech as “author slams poor Duchess Kate”. Even David Cameron chimed in. It was a big deal. But Hilary Mantel defended her comments last week, and now she’s claiming that she was merely shading the media and not Kate:

Award-winning novelist Hilary Mantel has defended her comments on the Duchess of Cambridge after saying she was becoming “a shop-window mannequin” who was “designed to breed”. The author insisted she had nothing to apologise for. The double Booker Prize winner hit the headlines last month when she referred to the duchess during a lecture at the British Museum as having no personality and appearing to have been “glossed-varnished” with a perfect smile.

In an interview on BBC Radio 3’s Night Waves programme on Thursday night, she said her words had been taken out of context and had no regrets about her comments.

“My lecture and the subsequent essay was actually supportive of the royal family and when I used those words about the Duchess of Cambridge, I was describing the perception of her which has been set up in the tabloid press,” she told presenter Anne McElvoy. “My speech ended with a plea to the press and to the media in general. I said ‘back off and don’t be brutes. Don’t do to this young woman what you did to Diana’. My whole theme was the way we maltreat royal persons, making them one superhuman and yet less than human.”

Mantel, whose latest novels are set in the Tudor court, said she believed she had been set up. She told the radio programme: “I don’t believe for one moment that there was any lack of clarity, after all, I have been practising my trade for a number of years now. It was a matter of taking the words completely out of context – twisting the context – and setting me up as a hate figure. I have absolutely no regrets. What I said was crystal clear.”

During the controversial lecture, organised by London Review of Books a month after her latest novel Bring up the Bodies won the Costa prize, Mantel suggested that “painfully thin” Kate was selected for her role of princess because she posed no risk of showing any character.

But she said on Radio 3: “I do think that the Duchess of Cambridge is an intelligent young woman who, if she cares to read my essay, will see that I meant nothing but good to her.”

[From The Guardian]

While I don’t doubt that Mantel’s full speech was nuanced and media-bashing, I think she’s playing it too coy by half by claiming that her speech was completely supportive of Kate and the royal family. You know why? Because Kate and the royal family have a lot of control over their PR images, especially in the UK media. They are not mere celebrities angling for favorable coverage. They have a huge press machine promoting certain images, and Mantel was dead-on about Kate’s image: In the image they push of her, Kate is only a royal body, a clothes hanger lacking in personality. And that is how the royals want her to be seen. And that’s how they promote her – like a second coming of Diana, only without the humanity, heart, work ethic, audacity, modernity or mess. Basically, Kate’s “like Diana” because they both liked clothes.

Meanwhile, “bashing Kate” is the new thing in England. A comedian named Sandi Toksvig recently did a bit in which she said Kate is so basic and meek, she’s like a character out of Jane Austen. She said: “Kate Middleton is not enough for me. We used to admire women who got their place in life through marriage and having children, but I like to think we’ve grown up a bit. I can’t think of a single opinion she holds – it’s very Jane Austen.” That’s an insult to Austen and her characters! Elizabeth Bennett is one of the great heroines of English literature, and Lizzie had more guts than Kate. Same for Marianne Dashwood and Emma Woodhouse and especially Anne Elliott. Austen wrote complicated, beautiful and flawed women. This woman doesn’t know what she’s talking about.

Photos courtesy of WENN.

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85 Responses to “Duchess Kate ‘critic’ Hilary Mantel claims she didn’t slam or shade Kate at all”

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  1. LadyMTL says:

    Ok, I’m no Kate lover but lets remember that Diana wasn’t (at first) the philanthropist with the amazing work ethic who gave so much time to charities. She was a bit like Kate in the sense that she was a new wife and a young mother…it was only when she got older and gained a good sense of who she was that she really started being active and doing so much good. Maybe Kate will mature and follow that path too?

    Oh, who am I kidding…she’ll probably never change. 😛

    • Eleonor says:

      Diana was nearly ten years younger than Kate when she got married,and unlike Kate she used to work a bit.
      Diana had a life, and a personality to start of,instead Kate seems to have concetrated all her efforts in becoming a royal wife.

      • Apples says:

        Diana was a kindergarten or daycare worker. I remember pictures of her on a playground…in a dress.

        Kate worked for her family business. I have to laugh every time someone complains about how easy Kate and Pippa have it at work. I worked for my family business and it was HELL. You are never free of work and it starts to feel like every family conversation revolves around work. Sure, it’s easy to get time off for Dr.’s appt’s. But, also impossible to say no when you are called in on your day off because someone is sick; or your weekend-off because of a huge unexpected shipment. Never think it is easy, and NEVER again for me.

      • Alexandra Bananarama says:


        You’re working for family experience wasn’t the same as Kates. We know how easy it was for her because she was always on vacation. Her job description for PP was so vague because she really didn’t do anything.

        I agree though. I’ve had friends that worked with their families and their summers were gone with 10 hour days 6 days a week.

    • I think the big difference was that when Diana married Chuckles the Tampon she was 20 and even then she had at least held a job for herself. Kate on the other hand was nearly 30 and hadn’t done anything but sit around and wait for William to give in and marry her like the Royal version of those contests where you can win a car if you’re the person touching it long enough.

      So I’m not exactly holding my breath that Kate will suddenly become deeper than the mud puddle on a summer’s day she is. I also don’t think that Mantel should have apologized it’s not like she didn’t say anything that wasn’t 100% true.

    • LadyMTL says:

      Oh, ITA with you! I know Waity is much older than Diana was when she married but my point was basically that Diana didn’t immediately fling herself into charitable works either.

      That said, I doubt Kate ever will because she never struck me as the type, and I do agree with Mantel’s basic point that Kate is basically a clothes hanger. (Plus I love her books so how can I disgree? LOL).

      • LAK says:

        Diana’s work didn’t start getting media attention until later in her marriage BUT there is video/photographic/court circular proof that she worked and toured extensively from day 1 of her marriage.

        That honeymoon cruise they took was used for several meet and greet dinners and receptions with foreign diplomats.

        I wish people would stop downgrading Diana’s work record to justify or reason out Kate’s barely existing one.

      • Suze says:

        Actually, she did.

    • Merritt says:

      I don’t consider myself a fan or a hater. But I feel like their is a lot of revisionist history when people compare Diana and Kate.

      After the divorce, there was a lot of criticism about Diana shopping too much or spending too much time with celebrities.

      Kate’s possible eating disorder is slammed or made fun of. Yet Diana had an eating disorder that she admitted to having, but only admitted it after the separation.

      • LAK says:

        You are the one being revisionist here.

        During Diana’s bulimic phase, not a lot was known about it. We had Karen Carpenter die infront of everybody, and still no one knew much about anorexia.

        We have that knowledge now, and so are more vigilant about it. And can call out a public figure if we think they have it. I am not saying Kate has either disease, but she has a very strict diet plan that maintains her thinner self.

        Diana was mainly criticised for hanging out with celebrities, BUT she balanced that with her work. Something Kate is yet to do.

      • Merritt says:

        @ LAK

        How is that revisionist? Diana received sympathy for having an eating disorder, yet Kate’s alleged eating disorder receives ridicule.

        You say there is better understanding now, but how does that commute when it comes to the statements that are made? Because a lot of the comments about her weight are not concern, they are genuinely cruel comments.

      • bluhare says:

        Genuinely cruel comments tend to have no basis in reality. I personally do not think Kate has an eating disorder. She has not got like Diana got during her anorexic phases. I think she likes the weight loss she attained prior to the wedding and is keeping with it.

      • LAK says:

        @Merrit – Diana’s bulimia wasn’t a deliberate process to maintain a thinner figure to fit a ‘princess’ ideal.

        Kate, by comparison has deliberately lost the weight to maintain a thinner version of herself. She told a fan directly that her weightloss was ‘part of the plan.’ She wasn’t a big girl to begin with, so her weight loss, unlike Diana’s weightloss, is purely for vanity. That’s why people are cruel.

      • Merritt says:


        Seriously? If someone has an eating disorder it is because they have a mental health issues, that needs attention.

        Rationalizing it to fit someone, you don’t like as a “grand plan” is just wrong. When a person regardless of their actual weight, makes dangerous weight loss choices, it is an eating and/or exercise disorder. Full stop. Using your logic most people with an eating disorder deserve public shaming and ridicule since most start doing it to look/feel thinner or feel better about themselves.

      • Alexandra Bananarama says:


        I just need to say something about your last post. Yes, people with eating disorders have a mental health issue, but it can be the seeds of vanity that starts it.

        For example I had an ED in my late teens to early 20’s. I stopped eating after a bad break up. My stomach shrunk so when i did eat it wasn’t much or i couldn’t keep it down. Purging wasn’t deliberate. I liked what I saw in the mirror and kept my weight down through unhealthy means.

        Kate lost weight out of vanity, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t struggling with body dysmorphia currently. Also, she has many competent medical professionals around her. They will do anything to keep her healthy as well as the future heir. Her mother imo is her worst critic. She’s the one Kate runs to for guidance and diet advice.

        Last bit. Diana struggled with bulimia and cutting out of stress, feeling alone with no one she could call a friend. Kate isn’t in the same boat at all.

      • Merritt says:

        @ Alexandra Bananarama

        But who is to say that vanity is the sole reason for Kate’s alleged eating disorder?
        No one can know that for sure. Spending years being teased and called “Waity” among other names, is bound to take a toll on a person.

        Marrying into the RF has been harsh on several of the women. Diana, Sarah Ferguson, Kate, etc.

        Other than her sister, who are her friends? She doesn’t have many of them and ones she seems to have are Will’s friends.

      • LAK says:

        Merritt – I am well aware of the many reasons a person can have an ED.

        However, i don’t think Kate has mental issues nor do i think she has an ED. It is perfectly possible to maintain a skinny frame without tipping over into anorexia/bulimia. Being on a diet isn’t = ED.

        What Kate has is a desire to be pin thin as part of a grand plan to be seen as more princess/Duchess in terms of her physical appearance. Something she undertook to do as soon as it was apparent that she REALLY was going to join the family. It goes along with how she presents herself.

        Further, she is not at all comparable to Diana or Fergie in terms of the kind of support or lack thereof she has received from the family. The help she has received is more on a par with Sophie. Much more, if we are to believe the Palace propaganda machine. So your sympathy for her on that front is completely misplaced.

        As for her lack of friends, that is entirely her fault. I have no sympathy. The royals aren’t just William. There is a whole array of cousins more or less her age. She made no effort to befriend them despite their being the only people who could support her within the family. Ditto Chelsy, the only other person who was in the same position as hers. Irony is that Chelsy did make an effort with the royal cousins and remains friends with them.

        With regards the name calling, Chelsy was called worse, derogatory things than Kate. I am not saying that is right, but Chelsy never received any support whatsoever whereas Kate did.

      • Alexandra Bananarama says:


        1s I agree with LAK. She lost her friends because they got in the way of pursuing Will. No pity, She cut them off.

        2nd Her being teased as “waity Kaity” isn’t that bad since she stated in her engagement interview she didn’t pay attention to or cared what people thought or wrote about her. The only opinion that mattered was Williams. She was called worse and treated worse by William and his friends that she has now befriended n place of her own. She’s now married to the man that often laughed at those jokes and who knows, maybe contributed. Knowing that I have no pity again for her. She married a man she should have left.

        3rd She had a decade+ to prepare for this role! A decade to find a charity, learn protocols, etc.. She had the time to take speech lessons to give her a posh accent, but she didn’t have time to get actual public speaking lessons since this is a huge part of her role. All while holding no real job.

        Bottom line is she enjoys her weight loss and sows it off in skin tight clothes. Allegedly made fun of a tennis star’s wife’s weight too after she birthed twins. Vanity is an issue with her. Kate being stressed out with her lifestyle is a hard pill to swallow. It’s also been mentioned that she looked much thinner in person than in the pics. We knew her published press pics were photo shopped, but it was suggested that it was edited to make her look like she had more weight on her.

      • Merritt says:

        @LAK and Alexandra Bananarama

        I disagree with you both. You are stating the reasons for her weight loss as fact. However you can’t know for sure. You present it is fact and for you there is no room for any other opinion.

        Since when is something someone said in an interview the entire truth about how they feel? Especially someone who at that time was just getting read to enter the RF? Was she supposed to say it bothered her and look thin skinned?

        No one can know how she really feels about the friend situation. A person is allowed to have regrets about friendships they no longer have.

        I wasn’t talking about her charity work or working life. So I don’t even know why that is being brought up.

    • bluhare says:

      Diana also didn’t give an engagement interview talking about how prepared she was and how she would “hit the ground running”.

  2. Nicole says:

    Preach on, Sister!

  3. T.Fanty says:

    She didn’t, really. It wasn’t a kind comment, but it was part of an objective observation on the function of the royal body – especially the female body.

    I am halfway through Bringing Up the Bodies, which is BRILLIANT. Hillary Mantel can do no wrong in my eyes.

    ETA: Waity is absolutely a Charlotte Lucas, though.

    • Lyn says:

      Mantel is AMAZING – probably my favorite living novelist. She’s so much more than a “historical novelist” – she’s best known for Wolf Hall and Bringing Up the Bodies, bothe of which won the Booker Prize, but the range of her work is staggering. It’s really depressing how many more people will read this speech (or, more accurately, read a few out-of-context snippets and fail to understand the complex and nuanced overall argument) than will ever pick up one of her novels.

      • T.Fanty says:

        Oh my goodness – did you ever read Beyond Black? It’s SO good!

      • Lyn says:

        Beyond Black is great! Now that I think about it, wasn’t there a section about the hysteria surrounding Diana’s death?

      • bob says:

        I read Beyond Black on one go a few years ago at xmas. I hadn’t been so disturbed by a novel for a long time. It’s superb.

    • MacScore says:

      You’re so right. I’ve read the whole lecture/article, as I subscribe to the London Review of Books where it was recently published – it was classic Mantel: thoughtful, brilliant, nuanced, and underscoring how royalty – and female royalty in particular – become a mirror of what “we” want to project onto them. I’m not sure I agree with an earlier poster who wrote that the Royal family “wants” Kate to be seen that way. Mantel emphasized how the associations we make take on a social dynamic of their own. Mantel has _nothing_ to apologize for, imo. Go Hilary Mantel! I don’t actually care one way or another about Kate, but Mantel’s comments were spot on.

    • ChiTown says:

      I haven’t read any of her books but now I am curious. Is there one that you gals would recommend starting with? I need to download a new book!

      • T.Fanty says:

        It depends what you like. Wolf Hall is the one about Anne Boleyn, and a great historical drama. Beyond Black is contemporary, and fairly humorous. I hear the eighteenth century one (I can’t remember its name) is also excellent.

        While we’re recommending, may I also suggest Fingersmith by Sarah Waters? After Wolf Hall, it’s the best thing I’ve read in ages.

      • ChiTown says:

        Thank you, T. Fanty! I will look into these tonight. I love book recommendations!

  4. Amanda says:

    I love Hilary Mantel! One of the greatest authors alive… Wolf Hall was indescribably beautiful. If anybody knows a thing or two about the English royalty, it’s HER.

  5. India says:

    People in the UK do not have freedom of the press. The British Royal Family totally control of it. They have tried to cram the image of the Golden Prince and Saint Oh So Perfectly Beautiful and Pure Kate down the public’s throat. The truth, in fact, is oh so far from that. William is not the Golden Prince and Kate is no beautiful and perfect saint. He is a spoiled arrogant brat and she is a plain woman who has been so processed with plastic surgery, fake hair and teeth who has slept and manipulated her way with her mother’s coaching to her present position. She is lazy and is not a nice person at all. She and He are the opposite of what their forced fake image is. And in actually, she is a royal vagina. Sorry to burst any one’s bubble, but that is the complete truth.

    • Amelia says:

      We’re not living in North Korea or China! There’s no Great Firewall keeping us from the truth.
      Trust me, the majority of the public are well aware that Kate is a distinctly inoffensive, vanilla, clothes horse with a severe allergy to any sort of work.

      • bluhare says:

        Amelia, I thought William had a ban on no negative stories about Kate. Am I wrong on that?

      • Sachi says:

        I wish this were true, that the media is free from royals’ interference.

        However, didn’t Charles ban an Australian comedy show from satirizing the royal wedding in 2011? If I remember it correctly, the order came straight out of Clarence House, Charles’s office.


        Also: Amanda Platell of The Dily Mail. William sent his men to “talk” to her about her criticisms of Kate and told her she was being ‘unfair’. Of course, Platell didn’t back down and gave a sarcastic non-apology and a big f*ck you to William.


        And the stories about William’s training at the RAF that only The Sun and Daily Mail (online) covered went nowhere. The other serious newspapers didn’t go anywhere with the info that William’s RAF training was costing the taxpayers lots of money, including his personal use of RAF helicopters to go to a stag party and land it in the Middletons’ backyard.

        The British royal family meddles with the press. It’s impossible that they don’t.

    • GoodCapon says:

      I think the press are just biding their time before the real stories about the Dolittles come out. Remember that they sat on Tampon-gate for a few years before they revealed it to the public.

      Right now they’re hyping up Kate as the big star and profit-wise it wouldn’t do well for them to knock her back down so quickly. But her time will come, as it has for many others.

  6. Faye says:

    Hillary Mantel should just “man up.” She’s an adult and she can say what she wants, which she did. No need to play coy now.

    What really offends me is the comparison to Jane Austen’s heroines — that merits an apology. Has this woman even read anything by Austen? Her heroines, especially Elizabeth Bennett, had fire and spice and personality and were independent thinkers. How exactly is that like Kate Middleton?

    On the other hand, I could accept the Carole Middleton-Mrs. Bennett comparison.

    • Spooks says:

      I think she didn’t mean Jane Austen’s characters literally, she just meant that, in the time Jane’s characters lived in, women, especially in the higher classes, were observed as pretty clothes hangers.

    • Cazzie says:

      It’s been a few years since I’ve read any literary criticism about Jane Austen, but here goes:

      Jane Austen and Shakespeare are seen as two of the most ‘invisible’ authors in the English language. This is to say that after reading, for example, authors such as Thackeray or Trollope, you get a pretty good idea of the author’s opinion on things. Jane Austen, however, is reknowned for her incredible ability to sink into her characters and allow them to be – seemingly alive – without any authorial voice trying to interfere with your understanding.

      So it MAY be what when she said it was ‘like Jane Austen’, she was referring to how Austen was able to write her characters so thoroughly, so well, that she was essentially gone from the text. That in Austen’s writing you really don’t get a sense of who Jane Austen was as a person – you don’t get a sense of Austen’s personality because the prose is so absolutely clear, almost transparent – which is a very different experience from reading Dickens and such.

      So it’s either that, or the comedian doesn’t know what she’s talking about.

    • Suze says:

      I’m laughing so hard at the idea that Hilary Mantel knows “nothing” about Jane Austen’s characters.

      • Another K says:

        Uh yeah. That was kind of an eye roller, eh?

      • Dot says:

        Except that it wasn’t Hilary Mantel that made that comment, it was Sandy Toksvig.

      • Suze says:

        It was just the way the comment was written that made it sound like Hilary Mantel knew nothing about Jane Austen. It was funny.

        People are very protective of their Lizzie Bennetts and Marianne Dashwoods!

      • Faye says:

        I’m aware it was the journalist, not Mantel, who made the comments. Don’t see anything in my comment that implied otherwise.

  7. Mia 4S says:

    I’m pretty staunchly anti-monarchy but I will say at least Queen Elizabeth has some accomplishments behind her (she was a mechanic in World War 2 for one). This girl deserves kindness (as do all decent human beings) but I have zero admiration for her. I mean what? I’m supposed to respect her for dressing well? (I’ll name a dozen models who dress well, I don’t respect or admire them.) Volunteer work? Lots of folks I know do more of it than she does. Royalty is an outdated notion, they essentially serve the same function as Mickey Mouse.

    • Spooks says:

      My biggest problem with a royal family in general is the fact that they are basically celebrated for being born. They are supposed to be superior based on the fact that their ancestors were a bit luckier or a bit smarter or a bit braver than ours. Really?
      This is the 21st century. Glory and admiration should come from achievements.

  8. Reece says:

    I cannot comment on this because I will go on a novel long rant on this woman about Jane Austen! In fact I’m gonna leave here right now because I’m pi**ed!!!

    • sy says:

      But all Austen’s heroins end up in marriage, and that is the endgoal of all of her stories.

      • Alexandra Bananarama says:

        Bull. The end goal is survival, security, being self reliant, and strong. Yes, they may be married by the end of it, but they’re strong, complicated women that at times have to take care of others or themselves when it would be easier to crumble.

      • Reece says:

        What Alexandra said, far more eloquently and succinctly than I.

      • Alexandra Bananarama says:

        Thanks Reece.

        I ended up trimming it down a lot. It was too late to edit once I noticed I deleted a bit about the times being different, but LAK’s post below covers it better.

        Those books bring us to a different era and marriage then didn’t mean quite the same as it does now. People forget to put it into perspective or actually read the books before butchering it to simplify.

  9. vava says:

    I don’t think Mantel was being “coy” in her rebuttal. I read her entire speech and her commentary was taken out of context by the tabloid press. That the Prime Minister wasn’t astute enough to read the speech before he added his own remarks, well — that says something about him, doesn’t it.

    • GoodCapon says:

      ^ This. I truly would have expected something more from a PM.

    • bluhare says:

      Totally, Vava. I think Hilary Mantel was spot on in her comments about her image and what that was, and I also like the fact she said to back off and let her be her own person. That, I would like to see.

  10. Alexandra Bananarama says:

    Really getting sick of people comparing Kate to others in history or tearing them down to make Kate’s laziness justifiable.

    Fact is Kate is like Kate. you can’t make a solid argument that Kate is like Diana in any work charity, marriage, or being a young mother (because Kate isn’t young she’s 30? 31? and is still gestating her 1st child)

    I guess you can make the argument that Kate is like her in the sense that they both breathed oxygen, but nothing passed the basics of existing.

  11. LAK says:

    Hilary MantelKs comments were indeed supportive of royal bodies. It’s too bad that she was fairly accurate about Kate. Some may be outraged that she voiced this concern, but in 2011 we acquired a new royal body which does nothing to move us away from the stereotype. If anything, Kate’s weds us firmly to it. No wonder we all rail against it because as women, we know we are more than our reproductive organs or decorative, devoid of personality ornaments.

    The Jane Austen comments are in danger of being misunderstood because people are looking at individual characters and their agreeable personalities within the novels and not seeing (or refusing to see) the bigger picture of Jane’s time and era and the lot of women.

    In pre-feminist times, women’s lot was misery and invisibility. The only way out was marriage. All the novels are about getting as good a marriage as possible to get a good life. Mrs Bennett Understood this. Ditto Charlotte Lucas. Mrs Dashwood was turned out of her home when she was widowed, which was the stark reality of the era. Fanny had to rely on the goodness or otherwise of her cousins simply for remaining single.

    Every single female character, no matter how they are dressed up, was basically looking for marriage as a getway to a better life. The seemingly more agreeable, devoid of personality and character where the most successful at it. This is a recurring theme in every single novel.

    The higher the marriage status achieved, the greater the applause.

    This is what sandy is talking about. We applaud Kate, the plastic princess, devoid of personality, character AND opinions for achieving the ultimate status through Marriage. That’s very Jane Austen of her.

    • bluhare says:

      Perfectly stated.

    • maitri says:

      Yes, BUT, the ‘princess dream’ is alive and well today…certain segment of women, have psyches that,whether conditioned from an early age or not, are pining for exactly t his….and their conscious minds are, as well.
      In fact, social climbing through marriage, celebrity, whatever-using sex and any other means, is alive and well.
      Despite the fact that women have other options.
      My point is: These women do not see themselves as ‘clothes hangers’ or ‘accessories’….they in fact see themselves as ambitious, successful achievers…We may think them shallow and unintelligent, but who is to say what makes for a good life?
      It’s not a uniform definition.
      Yea, we could say it’s b/c of barbie dolls or family modelling, that some girls grow up to want that, or we could say that, just as men pimp themselves out in the corporate world to climb and attain the life they want, women do the same….
      This is not a disempowered woman. The fact that some of us do not respect women who make those choices, means nothign to them, nor does it mean that our definition of success and dignity, is correct/the only one. It’s the correct one for and to us.

      The point is: you are still referencing against men as the standard for defining a woman’s existence, by saying ‘she is more than a clothes hanger, or should be’…..who decides she is a clothes hanger?

      • LAK says:

        I firmly believe that society has regressed as far as women’s issues and aspirations are concerned. When i was growing up, i was surrounded by women who wanted to take care of themselves. Most of the female stars/celebrities espoused the idea of women taking care of themselves, and standing up for ourselves.[of course we now know they were puppets but it was a more innocent era]. Diana was revered not just for being a beautiful princess but for working rather than spending her days at the beauty salon. Even the pampered wives took to organising ‘charity’ galas so as not to be seen sitting at home doing nothing. Barbie got a job [or several]. Jackie O was amazing for getting a job when she could have remained at home being feted and revered.

        My generation absolutely despised and were vocal against women aspiring to the ‘princess’ lifestyle.

        I honestly don’t understand where the trend to the princess lifestyle re-ignited because we thought we’d killed it off by the 90s. You look at all the Princes who married during that time through to early 00s. ALL married women of substance who remain undefined by their elevated status. except Poor Princess Masako of Japan, but that’s a discussion for another post.

      • Suze says:

        We need more princesses like Princess (soon to be Queen!) Maxima and Princess Victoria.

        Those are princesses I can get behind.

        And I agree, the return of the of princess rescued by a prince fantasy is troubling. And so far, that is what Kate Middleton has been. And she was supposed to be much more…

      • Spooks says:

        We don’t need any princesses at all.

      • bluhare says:

        I think there is validity to the “marry a prince” today. Only now it’s “marry a doctor”, “marry a hedge fund manager”, the implied statement being marry a man with money.

        So today, whether I like it or not, women are still defined by who they marry.

  12. Agnes says:

    No!!! Why is Mantel back-pedaling? She’s so right, she needs to own it.

    • Another K says:

      She’s not back-pedaling, she’s pissed off that her comments were lifted out of context and therefor her whole speech was misinterpreted as an attack on Kate. Just the media doing what they do best: stirring up a frenzy out of nothing. Which, ironically, speaks exactly to the content of her speech.

  13. KellyinSeattle says:

    I love Kate’s jacket.

  14. TheOriginalWaffle says:

    I actually read the whole essay in question. Mantel’s comments are not at all offensive. She’s talking about how her public image is made in order to gratify what the media thinks the public wants of Kate.

    However, I do think there’s some weird emotional stuff going on with Mantel’s authorial voice. I think she’s angry because Kate doesn’t conform to her ideal of what a royal personage should be like. Basically, Mantel can’t write another best-selling historical novel about a Kate-like figure (not in the way she’s accustomed to doing), so I think that’s the actual source of the weird judgey tone in the essay.

    Can’t use Kate to hang her royal fantasies on, so for Mantel, that means Kate clearly doesn’t have any personality whatsoever.

    Let’s give Kate some more time. Not putting a foot out of line is hard enough for her to focus on at first.

  15. LurkeeLee says:

    Is Kate wearing a hairpiece in these photos? In the top pic it looks like the back part of her hair is fake.

    I agree with those saying this Hilary Mantel person was right to begin with and should have just owned it. The way I had taken her comments were against the royal family rather than Kate personally. I took it like the RF picked someone non controversial and who they could mold to their liking and control image of considering how it all went down with Diana. I don’t see how media can be blamed when the RF control the British media of their image, at least to a certain extent.

    • LAK says:

      Welcome to the wiglet club AKA those who can see it on the back of her head. The downside is that once seen, you can’t unsee it!!

  16. Cameroon says:

    I don’t gate all this idiotic hatred towards the Duchess. We don’t really know her personally or anything so why all this bitterness? She is about to be a mother why are people tearing her down.
    I can’t belive people are even stupid enough to compare her to some reality tv star in the states that people keep mentioning here. Whats her name again? Seriously we are talking about the Dianas grandchild and the Queens great-grand child here. Are you gonna compare them to reality tv stars? Stupid.

    • Red Snapper says:

      You are the first person in this thread to mention KK or reality tv. Have you even read any of it before posting your `jealous hater`accusations?

    • Alexandra Bananarama says:

      Cameroon Your post gave me a big ol’ smile

      Let me break it down.
      1. My and possibly others assessment of Kate’s personality is based on over a decade of what she says, how she treats people, and her accomplishments or the void in time where nothing was accomplished between vacations with William.
      2. Yes she is a mother to be, but she uses this as an excuse to get out of her already light work schedule. Women everyday are expecting and working. Not calling sick to a charity and flying away.
      3. Diana’s grandchildren? seriously? Does that mean we should give them a free pass just because? Diana worked through both pregnancies. No excuses.

      You’re the only one bringing up the KK reference. And for the record. I am no Kim fan, but she works hard for her money.

      • Spooks says:

        And your comment is exactly what is wrong with society. Why would we admire the royal family? I certainly don’t. My grandparents are a bit older than Charles. Both of them lost their fathers in WW2. Both were faced with poverty and very hard life condtitions. They worked very very hard, they educated their kids so that they and their children will have a bettter life. Now, I’m in med-school and going to be a doctor one day, and I can thank them for that. To me, thaht is a bigger accomplishment then being born rich and entitled.

        Also, I am not from the UK, so I find comments about them being hugeambassadors for the UK quite strange. A country of such cultural and historical richness thinks we visit because of them?

        And, well, Kim K. as much as her work is pointless – it still is work. What does Kate do again?

      • bluhare says:

        Spooks: Perhaps because the Duchess is actually in a position power and could leverage it to do some good in this world, and so far all she is is a clothes hanger. A good clothes hanger, I’ll give you that, but a clothes hanger nonetheless.

  17. erika says:

    well, wait a minute….

    A LOT of Brits SLAMMED Diana in her later years, I mean, SLAMMED. I lived there in 97 and was there when she passed. She was slammed by me 23 yr old BF to my 93 yr old landlady. Regardless, I stood up for her. I loved Di, faults n’ all.

    And now, some media folk praise her? Compare her favorably to Kate? Come on, can’t have it both ways. Slam Di. now Praise Di but slam Kate. When Kate dies, praise Kate but slam current Duchess.

    And to summarize Kate as a ‘vagina’ is rude, crude.

    I know, I get it. I fantasize about being in Kate’s place, I’d LOVE it. I’d LOVE the charity work, the attention, and the criticism, the bouquets, the lil kids in aw of you, But, i know that I’d also love to open my big fat mouth, much like Di, and I know that if I were in Kate’s place, boy, I’d get slammed in the media for being ‘over emotional’ ‘uncensored’ ’emotionally delicate’ just like they said about Di.

    But I would love the oppy to give love, hope, joy to those citizens who like the Monarchy and I’d love to have my opinions, ideas. that kate is nothing like that, well, i get it, we don’t see her w/ william in private time and i get that she’s trying hard to keep it cool, low key so she doesn’t get crucified like Di did.

    • Alexandra Bananarama says:


      You’re right. People can’t have it both ways. Papers however print what sells. they’re not an accurate gauge for how the average person truly felt. At least, here Diana is praised for her work ethic and smaller things like being charismatic, clothes. etc.. Not too much else that comes to mind.

      Kate doesn’t seem to relish the chance to make a kid smile and do charity work. If she did she’s had the opportunity to do so. Instead she’s cancelled the whole schedule.

      Kate and William in private is sketchy. In snapped photos she clings to him and he doesn’t look at her. Often she sleeps alone at her parents while William is seen partying with his friends. For this I feel bad for her.

      If Kate spoke up, did more charity work, or showed that she wanted to change someone’s life for the better by a small action we will praise her. I mean that. It would be nice to see.

    • Suze says:

      So Kate is just playing it cool? She hides out with family/goes on vacation/ shops so she doesn’t get “crucified”? You think that this is a thought-out strategy?

      I’m not being snarky here (maybe a little), I’m truly puzzled. If it’s a strategy, it seems to be backfiring. She might want to rethink it. Or William will have to rethink it for her since she relies on him to lead her.

      The public really won’t be hip and down with a Princess/Queen Consort who does 15 charity engagements a year and spends the rest of her time vacationing and shopping.

      Yes, Diana got loads of bad press, particularly toward the end. Much of it well-deserved, considering some of her antics. But she didn’t get bad press for NOT working – so I can’t see Kate hiding out to avoid that.

      In fact – and Kate should take note of this – as years go by it is by her work that Diana has been redeemed and revered. Yeah, people remember that she was pretty and they sometimes remember what she wore (save all the hideous 80s stuff), but it’s because she shook hands with AIDs patients and visited hospices and hugged and comforted the elderly – over and over and over again – that she is remembered with love.

      • erika says:

        oh, i have no clue what, if any, strategy she might have. I was just hypothesizing.

        yes, yes! Diana’s legacy is her heart, and her most impactful touch she had on all leagues of people, but especially the sick, in need and troubled. I recall she was the first ‘celebrity’/public figure to hold hands w/ an AIDs patent in a cause to strip the discrimination. I wanted to be like her.

        However, what hit me in addition was her foibles, faults, vulnerability…although she was a ‘Princess’ I felt like she was just a girl/and a woman just like ME— (her weight/bulminia issues, divorce, pursuit of a true love and the criticism…she never hid her feelings, faked them and it’s that vulnerability that I related to (as a young woman) but that she also got ‘crucified’ (best way to define it) by the public for.

        I recall every moment when she passed and i wrote about it too…I was standing in Hyde Park since 3am just to have the honor of standing in acknowledgement as the cortege came through. I’ll never forget that experience. there was a buzz of grief over entire London and you could see it, feel and touch it it was so prevalent.

        Kate? idk. in a way i wished she could fulfill Di’s shoe and thrill us once again but….she isn’t part of the same stock that Di was and i think it’s probably better off.

        What does make me unhappy is that IF I WERE HER — with her oppy’s I would be reveling in it, for the good too. I would just love to be able to connect and inspire people and Kate just doesn’t have that spark.

        but since she doesn’t have that spark, I assume she’ll never be in the ‘hot seat’ with the ruling matriarch (Queen E.)

      • Suze says:

        erika you would make a fabulous princess – if I had the leverage I would nominate you for the role ; ).

      • bluhare says:

        I think it’s a strategy. When Kate got married she could have morphed into a superstar a la Diana, but I have read that the royals do not want a non-blood royal upstaging a blood royal again.

        Yes, they really do think like blood and non-blood types.

  18. Kate says:

    Mantel gave a speech that shredded the tabloid media, and part of that focused on how they present Kate as a doll, basically. She was scathing about them.

    The tabloid media are vindictive (there’s a reason the Mail attack Facebook, and Kate Winslet, to give just two examples – they threatened legal action over stories the Mail ran, and they’ve been targeted ever since) and they didn’t like Mantel laying into them. So they selectively quoted her accordingly, and then attacked on that basis.

    Hugh Grant actually talked about this exact thing, at the time it happened, as part of his Hacked Off campaign. And he’s linked to a story that addresses this on his Twitter, too. It’s just tabloid spin against someone who criticises them, whatever is said.

    Mantel isn’t being disingenuous; that was what happened. And the Mail are often a lot less flattering about Kate, in a subtle way, than they appear to be. They need the royal family on side to an extent in order to get access, but they’re quite capable of talking subtle trash, too. Amanda Platell is past mistress of it.