Kate Middleton a mannequin with ‘no personality'
Words: Emma Clark
LONDON: To many it was a fairytale wedding, but British novelist Hilary Mantel has suggested that Prince William chose the Duchess of Cambridge for his bride because of her perfect plastic smile and lack of character.
In an hour-long speech about the merits of having a royal family in the modern era, the double Booker Prize-winner described the Duchess of Cambridge's role in society as that of "shop-window mannequin" with no personality, whose only purpose was to breed.
She contrasted the Duchess's "plastic" persona with Prince William's mother, Princess Diana, whom she described as awkward and emotionally incontinent.
"Diana was capable of transforming herself from galumphing schoolgirl to ice queen, from wraith to Amazon. Kate seems capable of going from perfect bride to perfect mother, with no messy deviation," Mantel said.
She went on to suggest that the "painfully thin" Kate was chosen to be William's bride because she posed little risk.
"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.
"She appears precision-made, machine-made, so different from Diana."
Mantel's remarks were made two weeks ago during a lecture at the British Museum, organised by the London Review of Books, a month after her latest novel, Bring Up the Bodies, won the Costa prize.
The London Review of Books has since reproduced the transcript of her speech on its website.
In it, Mantel, whose Booker-winning books are about the royal court in the Tudor period, analyses the family's hold on British culture.
She describes the Windsors as like pandas - "expensive to conserve and ill-adapted to any modern environment. But aren’t they interesting? Aren’t they nice to look at?" - and describes seeing the Queen enter the room at a function.
"I am ashamed now to say it but I passed my eyes over her as a cannibal views his dinner, my gaze sharp enough to pick the meat off her bones," Mantel said.
But perhaps her most acerbic observations were reserved for the pregnant Duchess, which were quickly seized upon by UK tabloids such as the Daily Mail.
Mantel said at one stage she saw Kate becoming a "jointed doll on which certain rags are hung".
She added: "In those days [Kate] 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. Once she gets over being sick, the press will find that she is radiant.
"They will find that this young woman's life until now was nothing, her only point and purpose being to give birth."
She pointed to Kate's first official portrait by Paul Emsley, unveiled in January, where she was wearing "the strained smile of a woman who really wants to tell the painter to bugger off".
During the lecture Mantel questioned whether the monarchy was a "suitable institution for a grown-up nation" in a society that sacrifices royal ladies and allows them to be entertainment.
Press Association via The Sydney Morning Herald.