British novelist Hilary Mantel faced criticism on Tuesday after describing Prince William’s wife Catherine as a “shop window mannequin” with a “plastic smile” whose only purpose is to breed.
The double Booker Prize winning author, 60, said Kate had neither the personality of William’s mother Diana nor the presence of historical heavyweight Anne Boleyn, who features heavily in Mantel’s novel Wolf Hall.
In a lecture given two weeks ago at the British Museum and reprinted this week in the London Review of Books literary journal, Mantel said the Duchess of Cambridge appeared “machine-made” when she first emerged in public.
“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,” Mantel said.
Mantel said 31-year-old Catherine had gone from being a “jointed doll on which certain rags are hung” to someone whose “only point and purpose” was to have children, according to the novelist.
Before marrying second-in-line to the throne William in 2011 and falling pregnant last year, 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,” she said.
The novelist compared Kate unfavourably to Boleyn, the “power player” who married 16th-century English king Henry VIII before he had her beheaded, and to Diana, who died in a car crash in Paris in 1997.
“She appears precision-made, machine-made, so different from Diana whose human awkwardness and emotional incontinence showed in her every gesture.”
Mantel is the only woman to win the Man Booker Price twice, claiming the first in 2009 for Wolf Hall, the opening part of her trilogy about Henry VIII’s adviser Thomas Cromwell.
The second instalment, Bring Up The Bodies, won the award last year.
A spokeswoman for William and Catherine declined to comment when contacted.
Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper described Mantel’s comments as an “astonishing and venomous attack on the Duchess of Cambridge.”
Joe Little, the editor of Majesty Magazine, was quoted as saying by The Daily Telegraph newspaper that Mantel’s comments were “incredibly unkind”.