LONDON A novelist, a duchess and a tabloid newspaper have made an explosive combination in Britain.
The Daily Mail on Tuesday ran a front-page broadside against two-time Booker Prize-winner Hilary Mantel for her “venomous attack” on the former Kate Middleton.
In a speech earlier this month, Mantel characterized the wife of Prince William as “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.”
Mantel’s speech, reprinted this week in the London Review of Books, was about the British public’s complex relationship with royalty over the centuries — a relationship both symbiotic and voyeuristic.
The speech looked at the way the public and the press glorify and destroy royals, from Anne Boleyn to Princess Diana, casting them in roles and stories in which “adulation can swing to persecution, within hours.”
But for the Daily Mail, this became “an astonishing and venomous attack on the Duchess of Cambridge.”
The newspaper’s front page juxtaposed pictures of the author and the duchess alongside the front-page headline “A plastic princess designed to breed.”
It quoted Mantel’s speech at length, though did not note that Mantel was describing what she saw as a view of Kate constructed by the press and public opinion.