Author Hilary Mantel defends Kate Middleton comments

image captionHilary Mantel won the Costa Book of the Year for Bring Up The Bodies
media captionHilary Mantel: I asked the press to 'back off and don't be brutes'

Award-winning novelist Hilary Mantel has defended her comments about the Duchess of Cambridge, saying "I have absolutely nothing to apologise for".

Mantel had been quoted as saying the duchess was a "shop-window mannequin" whose only purpose was to breed.

But she told BBC Radio 3's Night Waves programme that her words had been completely taken out of context.

Mantel said her speech had clearly been addressing a perception of Catherine that had been created in the media.

'Back off'

In a lecture at the British Museum, Mantel said Catherine appeared to have been "gloss-varnished" with a perfect plastic smile, and having no personality.

Speaking about those comments, the author said: "My lecture and the subsequent essay was actually supportive of the Royal Family and when I used those words about the Duchess of Cambridge, I was describing the perception of her which has been set up in the tabloid press.

"My speech ended with a plea to the press and to the media in general. I said 'back off and don't be brutes; don't do to this young woman what you did to Diana'.

"My whole theme was the way we maltreat royal persons, making them one superhuman, and yet less than human."

Mantel, whose latest novels are set in the royal court in Tudor times, said she believed she had been "set up" as a hate figure.

"I don't believe for one moment that there was any lack of clarity, after all, I have been practising my trade for a number of years now," she said.

"It was a matter of taking the words completely out of context - twisting the context - and setting me up as a hate figure.

"I have absolutely no regrets. What I said was crystal clear."

Mantel, who won the Costa Book of the Year Award for Bring Up The Bodies. added: "I do think that the Duchess of Cambridge is an intelligent young woman who, if she cares to read my essay, will see that I meant nothing but good to her."

Rise and fall

Prime Minister David Cameron had said Mantel was "completely wrong" about her comments.

Labour leader Ed Miliband said he did not agree with her remarks, describing them as "pretty offensive".

Mantel's lecture, organised by London Review of Books, was titled Undressing Anne Boleyn and was on the topic of royal women.

Mantel's Booker Prize-winning novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies chart the rise and fall of Thomas Cromwell, a powerful minister in the court of Henry VIII.

Her original comments sparked a backlash from some newspapers, with the Daily Mail calling it "an astonishing and venomous attack" and the Guardian saying it was a "damning" take.

Others, such as the Independent, were supportive of the author.

Mantel had, until now, declined to comment on her speech.

St James's Palace also declined to comment on behalf of the Duchess of Cambridge at the time.

More on this story

Around the BBC

Related Internet Links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.