Duchess Kate Middleton: ‘Mantel more like No bloody Man and tell’
AWARD-winning author Hilary Mantel says the Royal Family pick a brood mare the same way a Scientology star picks a wife. They like an easy-wipe surface. Whilst Mantel was comparing Kate Middleton to a dead-eyed mannequin, the pregnant Duchess of Cambridge, for it is she, was getting back to work after her Caribbean getaway. At Hope House, she waved, looked interested, waved, shook hands, waved, waved some more and then left to a magical faraway land where the paparazzi don’t exist and everything tastes of furniture polish.
Last summer at the festival in Hay-on-Wye, I was asked to name a famous person and choose a book to give them…
I chose Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, and I chose to give her a book published in 2006, by the cultural historian Caroline Weber; it’s called Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution. It’s not that I think we’re heading for a revolution. It’s rather that 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. 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.
Antoinette as a royal consort was a gliding, smiling disaster, much like Diana in another time and another country. But 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. When it was announced that Diana was to join the royal family, the Duke of Edinburgh is said to have given her his approval because she would ‘breed in some height’. Presumably Kate was designed to breed in some manners. She looks like a nicely brought up young lady, with ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ part of her vocabulary. But in her first official portrait by Paul Emsley, unveiled in January, her eyes are dead and she wears the strained smile of a woman who really wants to tell the painter to bugger off…..
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 whose human awkwardness and emotional incontinence showed in her every gesture.
David Cameron, once he’d realised the piece wasn’t about him, opined:
“I think what she’s said about Kate Middleton is completely misguided and completely wrong. What I’ve seen of Princess Kate is this is someone who’s a fantastic ambassador for Britain.”
He then turned, waved and folded himself into a packing case.
Meanwhile, Kate was heard to say: “Mantel. More like no-man friggin’ tell. I’d like to rearrange her mush but she’d only look better.”
Hilary Mantel is missing (soon).
Note: Made-up rumour has it that after Kate married Wills, the footmen took her to a room and showed her really happened to Diana. “Any questions, Kate?” they asked.