Kate seems to have been selected for her role of princess because she was irreproachable: as painfully thin as anyone could wish, without quirks, without oddities, without the risk of the emergence of character. She appears precision-made, machine-made, so different from Diana whose human awkwardness and emotional incontinence showed in her every gesture. Diana was capable of transforming herself from galumphing schoolgirl to ice queen, from wraith to Amazon. Kate seems capable of going from perfect bride to perfect mother, with no messy deviation.
The rest of Mantel’s heresy is here. I bet the London Review of Books have never known such a page load spike.
Of course, Mantel has committed THE cardinal sin as far as official Britain is concerned. Whereas major royals were once fair game for the press, between the death of Diana and the Golden Jubilee five years later, the dead hand of media self-censorship made itself felt. Against the grain of the age, the multiplication of irreverence against institutions and celebrity went into reverse. We saw the strange return of royal reverence. As Mantel is now finding out, this new reverence is policed by the professional flak machines of the press, politicians, and public intellectuals.
This article first appeared at A Very Public Sociologist.