A Professor at KU has rushed to defend Kingston honorary degree holder Hilary Mantel, the woman who has sparked a nationwide debate over her comments about Kate Middleton.
The two-time Booker prize winner has found herself thrown into the public eye and criticised after giving a lecture at the British Museum two weeks ago in which she referred to the Duchess of Cambridge as a “shop window mannequin”.
A lot of fuss over very little
Professor Clarke, of English literature and creative writing at KU, said: “You have a long piece which has a couple of references. Hilary Mantel is contextualising her [Kate Middleton] in a story about monarchy, which she has been meditating on for years.
“It’s a subject that she really has thought about and Kate Middleton is sort of incidental to it.”
Ms Mantel’s comments included describing the Duchess of Cambridge as a “jointed doll on which certain rags are hung” and said that her “only point and purpose” was to give birth.
It must be noted, though, that Ms Mantel’s comments about Kate Middleton made up just four paragraphs of a 30-paragraph lecture, and was woven into context with other royal women such as Anne Boleyn and Princess Diana.
“It ends with a tremendous note of sympathy for Kate Middleton,” said Prof Clarke. “Royalty distorts people and royal women in particular – they get used in particular ways. And then she [Ms Mantel] says ‘Let’s try and not do this to Kate Middleton. Let’s be kind’.
“She’s trying to change the attitudes. She’s a vivid phrasemaker, so she has used phrases that people have taken out of context. She’s drawing attention to the clichés that the press uses.”
Ms Mantel turn to suffer
Prof Clarke suggests that it is Ms Mantel’s turn to be knocked by the press and concluded: “The press always sets people up and knocks them down.”
A spokesperson for Ms Mantel has said that the speech was “remarkably sympathetic” about royal women and added: “It is about how the institution of royalty has to project and how it comes across.”