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Hilary Mantel on Kate Middleton

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 hereI 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.


  1. Trevor Warner says:

    The media outcry from the bloodhounds of the Right (Daily Vile et al) provide even more reason why this antiquated bastion of privilege should be swept away with. The idea that a Prime Minister, even one as discredited as Cameron, should take time out from the affairs of State to comment on the furore, albeit he has obviously not read Hilary’s comments, is staggering.
    Let’s here it for the untold millions of working women, the nurses, teachers etc who actually add something to society rather than this cosseted family who the taxpayers keep in luxury.

  2. Lyra Kätz says:

    It’s a shame that the media outcry has dwarfed the main themes of Mantel’s article which are the treatment of royal brides by the populace and their reduction to royal wombs and vaginas (going back a long way before today’s popular press). Inevitable, I suppose.

    The central question Mantel poses is “Is monarchy a suitable institution for a grown-up nation?” The answer is easy. No, of course it’s not. The harder question is, can a nation that allows itself to be manipulated into an obsession with royalty really be considered grown-up?

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