Hilary Mantel Defends her 'Plastic' Comments about Kate Middleton

Plastic Princess? (Photo: Getty Images)Remember when novelist Hilary Mantel referred to Kate Middleton as “a shop window mannequin, with no personality of her own” and the whole world seemed outraged? Mantel finally responded to the uproar.

"I have absolutely nothing to apologize for,” she told the BBC Radio’s Night Waves program. “It was a matter of taking the words completely out of context—twisting the context—and setting me up as a hate figure,” she said. “I have absolutely no regrets. What I said was crystal clear.” 

Mantel's original incendiary remarks are from a speech called “Royal Bodies,” which was published as an essay in the London Review of Books in February.

Mantel’s piece is about the purpose of the monarchy. In it, she compares Kate Middleton to Marie Antoinette. “I saw Kate becoming a jointed doll on which certain rags are hung. In those days she was a shop-window mannequin, with no personality of her own, entirely defined by what she wore.”

She also describes the difference between Kate and Princess Diana: “Kate Middleton, as she was, appeared to have been designed by a committee and built by craftsmen, with a perfect plastic smile and the spindles of her limbs hand-turned and gloss-varnished,” suggesting that Kate was bred for royal life, whereas Diana was less interested in playing by their rules.

Throughout the essay, Mantel, author of the Man Booker Prize winning novel “Bring Up the Bodies,” focuses on what we as a culture read into the royal family, and how often our feelings have no bearing on their real lives whatsoever. “Some people find them endearing; some pity them for their precarious situation; everybody stares at them, and however airy the enclosure they inhabit, it’s still a cage,” she says in the lecture.

Novelist Hilary Mantel. (Photo: Getty Images)After her speech was published, Mantel was slammed by the British press. Even Prime Minister David Cameron called her comments "completely misguided, and completely wrong."

When asked on the BBC program about whether or not her comments were meant as insult, Mantel responded: “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 said. “My whole theme was the way we maltreat royal persons, making them one superhuman, and yet less than human.

“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.”

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