British author attacks "plastic" princess Kate

Tue Feb 19, 2013 9:02am EST
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By Clare Hutchison and Peter Griffiths

LONDON (Reuters) - One of Britain's most celebrated authors has launched a withering attack on the Duchess of Cambridge, the pregnant wife of Prince William, branding her a "shop-window mannequin" with a plastic smile whose only role in life is to breed.

Prime Minister David Cameron described award-winning writer Hilary Mantel as "misguided" after she likened the former Kate Middleton to a "machine made" doll, devoid of personality.

Her comments about the 31-year-old wife of William, second-in-line to the British throne, divided public opinion, with newspapers condemning Mantel as "venomous", "cruel" and "staggeringly rude".

Supporters said her words had been taken out of context from a long analysis of society's centuries-old obsession with the appearance and fertility of royal wives that ended with a plea to "back off and not be brutes" to them.

"I saw Kate becoming a jointed doll on which certain rags are hung," Mantel said in a lecture at the British Museum in London earlier this month in which she spoke about her changing view of the princess.

"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."

Speaking during a visit to India, Cameron said Mantel was wrong and that people should do more to encourage a young royal who is a "fantastic ambassador for Britain".

"She writes great books, but I think what she's said about Kate Middleton is completely misguided and completely wrong," Cameron told Sky News.   Continued...

Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, visits the Kranji Commonwealth War Cemetery in Singapore September 13, 2012. REUTERS/Tim Chong