UK & World News
Mantel's Speech On Duchess Causes A Storm
Hilary Mantel has caused a furore after giving a speech in which she appeared to criticise the Duchess of Cambridge.
The Daily Mail ran a front-page article hitting out at the two-times Booker Prize winner for her "venomous attack" on the former Kate Middleton.
In a speech earlier this month, Mantel said she saw Prince William's wife becoming a "jointed doll on which certain rags were hung ... a shop-window mannequin".
Mantel said that as a royal consort, Kate "appeared to have been designed by committee and built by craftsmen, with a perfect plastic smile and the spindles of her limbs hand-turned and gloss-varnished".
Even David Cameron - who is on a trip to India - commented about the affair, saying Mantel's comments were "completely misguided and completely wrong".
But the author's remarks, which were reprinted this week in the London Review Of Books, seem to have been taken out of context.
Her speech was about the British public's complex relationship with royalty over the centuries - a relationship both symbiotic and voyeuristic.
It looked at the way the public and the press glorify and destroy royals, from Anne Boleyn to Diana, Princess of Wales, casting them in roles and stories in which "adulation can swing to persecution within hours".
Nevertheless, the Daily Mail labelled it an "astonishing and venomous attack" on Kate.
It quoted Mantel's speech at length, although it did not point out that Mantel was describing what she saw as a view of Kate constructed by the press and public opinion.
In her speech, Mantel said Diana "passed through trials, through ordeals at the world's hands".
She also said Prince Harry "doesn't know which he is, a person or a prince" - a confusion on which Harry himself recently remarked.
And she said Kate, whose first child is due in July, finds herself cast by the press as someone whose "only point and purpose (is) to give birth".
Mantel ended her speech with a plea for people to "back off and not be brutes".
The speech - and its subsequent reporting - were quick to draw comments on social media.
One user tweeted: "You have to admire the genius of the Daily Mail in turning Hilary Mantel's attack on them into an attack on the Duchess of Cambridge."
Sixty-year-old Mantel won the prestigious Booker Prize in 2009 and 2012 for Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies.
The novels are set in the time of King Henry VIII, focusing on the King's search for a queen who will give him a male heir.