A few days ago, while mucking around on Twitter, I inadvertently read a transcript of Hilary Mantel’s 5,500-word “Royal Bodies” lecture sponsored by the London Review of Books. At the time I thought it was a nuanced and complex discussion of the public’s objectification of royal princesses through the centuries.
But hats off to the Daily Mail for setting me straight! Now I see that it’s a hate-filled rant from a jealous old bag who should just get over herself.
You think the Duchess of Cambridge is “plastic”, do you, Mantel? For goodness sake, she and Wills went on honeymoon to the Seychelles! Would they have done that if there had been a danger of her melting in the sun? If your ivory tower research had advanced beyond boring stuff from FIVE HUNDRED YEARS AGO, you’d know that there hasn’t been a plastic Royal anywhere in the world since Prince Lego of Denmark, and that unfortunate incident in the kindergarten when a child accidentally swallowed three of his fingers.
“Painfully thin” when she first appeared on the scene, was she? That’s a taut stomach, that is. Anyway, it’s vital for prospective princesses to be skinny, so they can avoid paparazzi by hiding behind lamp-posts and squeezing through narrow spaces. Royal observers still shudder about the night Fergie pigged out on Krispy Kremes, got stuck in the Kensington Palace railings and had to be rescued by the SAS. Besides, Kate’s athletic, not weedy. Here’s a picture of her at her old school with a hockey stick. She’s the one on the right.
As for being “breeding stock”: well, of course we’d have been content for Wills and Kate to hold off the sprog-laying for a couple of years. But the thing is, Harry’s currently third in line to the throne, and he’s such a berk that it was vital to get him down the rankings as soon as possible. Of course, if the present Queen pegs out , we can always buy time by getting Helen Mirren to do the Christmas broadcast. But if she’s busy in Hollywood, and then Charles chokes on a Duchy Original hob-nob and Wills steers his helicopter into a ravine, we’d prefer the business of government to be scrutinised by someone under the influence of Peppa Pig rather than World of Warcraft.
And how dare you call her a “clothes horse”? Oh, I see that actually you didn’t - it was just the Daily Mail helpfully filling in the blanks. All right, then, “shop-window mannequin”. That’s so unfair: I’d pick Kate out of a line-up of mannequins at least eight times out of ten. Well, six if I’m not allowed to use the little bump and the crowd of photographers as clues. It was a mannequin sitting for that horrendous portrait, right?
Anyway, what’s wrong with wearing nice clothes, particularly if they have shiny bits that can keep people distracted while the Government gets on with buggering up the economy? Nothing whatsoever, which is why David Cameron was so quick to defend Kate today, even at the cost of a few minutes’ sucking up to Indian businessmen. “She’s a fantastic ambassador for Britain,” he gushed. Is this because of her History of Art degree or because she’s a prime example of well decorated posh totty? It doesn’t take 650 pages of pseudo-historical claptrap to work that one out, Hilary.
So it’s settled. Hilary Mantel should apologise and immediately resign as Booker and Costa title holder. And maybe, if we consider letting her near one of those prizes again, she should splash out on some decent clothes instead of those frumpy tents she’s favoured up till now.
Thankfully, her venomous onslaught didn’t seem in any way to faze Kate, who was radiant, beautifully dressed and exactly the right shape for someone at her stage of pregnancy as she visited a drug addiction centre and enquired of each client, “And what is it you do?” An ultra-scan would no doubt have shown the foetus smiling benignly.
We live in a tricky world, with big questions confronting us. And pesky intellectuals aren’t helping by challenging our firmly-held views with inconvenient facts. Thank goodness for the Daily Mail, which cuts through all the sophistry and makes sure we’re all screaming from the same hymn sheet. And at 60p per copy, it’s so much cheaper than listening to a taxi driver!