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David Cameron should have read Hilary Mantel’s essay before criticising it

19 February 2013

1:36 PM

19 February 2013

1:36 PM

How stupid of David Cameron to join this absurd row over Hilary Mantel’s-speech-turned-LRB-essay on monarchy. I strongly suspect that the Prime Minister was told to do so by aides, who for their part had been reading various journalists on the subject, who for their part hadn’t actually read the essay at all. They just all mouthed off because they wanted a little outrage to fill the day, and LRB’s provocative cover has (cleverly, perhaps) given them an excuse.

Anyone with more than three brain cells who bothers to read the bloody thing will see that it is in fact an odd – albeit electrifyingly brilliant – ramble about our understanding of monarchy and how the public images of our Queens and Kings are constructed and changed. It sprawls across all sorts of topics, from Kate to Diana to Marie Antoinette to the Tudors to the recent discovery of Richard III. Mantel’s conclusion, in fact, is pro-Kate:

 I’m asking us to back off and not be brutes… The pen is in our hands. A happy ending is ours to write.

The idea that this is some sort of ‘attack’ is silly. I suppose one should expect hacks and twitterers and bloggers to see insult where there is none — that’s what we do. But if the PM is to wade into such a row, he should surely read the piece and think a little harder before doing so. He’s meant to be on an important trade mission in India, for goodness’ sake.

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Show comments
  • zeltia

    A friend sent me the essay and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I am sure that the Duchess will probably be the first to agree with the comments in their context, and that is why she will make an ideal, trouble free Royal.

  • Maidmarrion

    Hilary Mantel has seen sales of her award-winning novels soar after making
    headlines worldwide by describing the Duchess of Cambridge as “painfully thin,
    shop window mannequin”.

    The above from the Telegraph – no such thing as bad publicity and boy has she had publicity from every available media outlet.

  • Fergus Pickering

    I don’t think it was electrifyingly brilliant. I think it was Hilary getting above herself. She will regret it. Of course the whole thing is not of the slightest importance.

  • Maidmarrion

    Isn’t that nice?The entire press has now jumped on the bandwagon and written column inches on one womans idea of brood mares – not to mention televised news giving it a great deal of comment.
    I’m sure the lady who made the comment will be delighted with the free publicity she now has as a writer and the Duchess of Cambridge will just have to suffer in silence as the feeding frenzy continues and the comments on her pregnancy continue intrusively.
    I feel more ashamed of our media every day – the fourth estate ?Gimme a break!

    • Fergus Pickering

      hat good will this publicity do Hilary Mantel? None that I can see.

      • Maidmarrion
      • Maidmarrion

        Hilary Mantel sales rocket amid ‘plastic princess’ furore

        Hilary Mantel has seen sales of her award-winning novels soar after making
        headlines worldwide by describing the Duchess of Cambridge as “painfully thin,
        shop window mannequin”.
        From the DT

      • Maidmarrion

        Hilary Mantel sales rocket amid ‘plastic princess’ furore

        Hilary Mantel has seen sales of her award-winning novels soar after making
        headlines worldwide by describing the Duchess of Cambridge as “painfully thin,
        shop window mannequin”.
        I have reprinted this as the Spectator seems to dislike the information.
        Don’t ask me how /why this kind of publicity works – just accept that it does, no matter how some of us will it otherwise!

      • Maidmarrion

        Maidmarrion•2 minutes ago

        +

        I keep trying to reply to you but somehow it doesn’t seem to work I can only assume Disqus is playing up.However should there be a plethora of this comment emanating from my moniker I do apologise.

        Hilary Mantel has seen sales of her award-winning novels soar after making
        headlines worldwide by describing the Duchess of Cambridge as “painfully thin, shop window mannequin”.

        The above from the Telegraph – no such thing as bad publicity and boy has she had publicity from every available media outlet.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1078105923 Hegemony OrBust
  • retundario

    The left and our beloved “Aunty” went ballistic because a Tory minister dared to point out that homosexuals could not procreate last week, so why on earth the right should bite their lip I do not know.

  • Herbert Smith

    Freddie Gray is just as silly as Hilary Mantel and probably just as short on good looks. They should get together.

  • anyfool

    Have just read the speech, it is the usual pretentious self regarding lefty spiel, she even spoke this line,

    “such was the hard power of my stare that Her Majesty turned and looked back at me, as if she had been jabbed in the shoulder;”

    Truly a woman who is a legend in her own mind, her prose is as ugly as her demeanour and her criticism of the Duchess is just that.

  • Trofim

    I can’t help noticing that Hilary Mantel looks like a sack of potatoes. Her teeth are appalling, and looking at the telly now, I can see that she is unpleasantly micrognathic. But I wouldn’t say so in public.

  • http://www.facebook.com/neilastrachan Neil Strachan

    It would hardly have been difficult for the Prime Minister to remain honest and innocuous in his reply. A simple, ‘Well I personally haven’t read the essay, but I can say that in my encounters with Kate, I have found her to be a genuine and charming person. Next question please.’ Instead we have echoes of the Labor Party pandering to the tabloids with condemnation of TV shows they haven’t seen (c.f. faxed in condemnation of Brass Eye). That and he doesn’t even know the Duchess’ correct title. Good to see the tabloids are still in favor when they attack an individual. At least they aren’t attacking politicians. Phew, well then, let’s all pile on in complete ignorance…

  • Jules

    Are the Monarchy above any criticism now? This Country is becoming increasingly hostile to any notion of free speech. Sad and dangerous.

    • HooksLaw

      Of course the monarchy can be criticised but do you consider valid criticism to be something along the lines of ‘look he’s got a big nose’?

    • anyfool

      No they are not, nor do they deserve to be, it is the sheer two faced abilty of feminist lefties like this moon faced creature to cast slurs on a woman because of who she married, when it happens to one of their kind like Cherie Blair they get so uptight about it they stop shaving for a week.

    • Colonel Mustard

      Try Thailand then.

    • retundario

      Either it’s free speech for all, or both sides play dirty. No more right-wingers being relaxed about lefties being unpatriotic, despite the left shredding anyone who breaks one of their taboos. Let the race to the bottom begin.

  • perdix

    So Cam gets asked a question by a member of the press who has absolutely no interest in Cam’s trade mission but is looking for a piece of gossip. Cam gives his thoughts on some of the remarks made by Mantel. The remarks which I have seen are completely offensive particularly because there is no accepted way for the Duchess to defend herself. Mantel’s CV says she studied at Sheffield(graduated?) and then “discovered” socialism. Nuff said.

    • HooksLaw

      He praised Mantel where she might deserve praise (as a novelist) but took issue with her other opinion.
      All of which makes him a superb diplomat.

  • toco10

    Hilary Mantel has demonstrated herself to be an extremely unpleasant and unattractive person who is correctly castigated for being a leftist ranter.David Cameron was absolutely right to voice his opinion on the matter which the vast majority support.Funny tax avoiding millionaire hacks on the BBC’s Today programme give the wicked crone more than reasonable air time without a hint of reproach.

    • Joe Holden

      “Unattractive person” and “The wicked crone”.. nicely misogynist mate, well done!

      • toco10

        You are clearly not a gentleman and Hilary Mantel is no lady judging by her offensive remarks regarding someone who is indeed a lady.

        • Joe Holden

          You’re a real gentleman. A very bright man no doubt. First class.

  • Joe Holden

    Mantel said:
    “These days she is a mother-to-be, and draped in another set of
    threadbare attributions. Once she gets over being sick, the press will
    find that she is radiant. They will find that this young woman’s life
    until now was nothing, her only point and purpose being to give birth.”

    The Mail reports this as:
    “She
    said Kate had gone from being a ‘jointed doll on which certain rags are
    hung’ to a woman whose ‘only point and purpose’ was to give birth.”

  • Joe Holden

    Jesus, you Spectator readers are as thick as those on the thread of the Daily Mail article.
    You should all be ashamed of yourselves and read the bloody thing.
    Looks like Freddy may have overestimated the capacity of his own readers, barely three brain cells between them!

  • Reconstruct

    For what it’s worth, I thought Mantel’s piece was really interesting, and frankly, not at all insulting to the Duchess. It takes a rather perverse reading to make it so.

  • http://twitter.com/judyk113 judyk113

    I have read the piece in the LRB and read it long before the tabloid press got to it.

    It’s extraordinary that you assume that those who are critical of Mantel’s diatribe about Kate Middleton have neither read the text or have fewer than three brain cells. Arrogant, much? I’ll admit to being both a blogger and a twitterer, but I was a university academic in the field of English literature.

    What are your qualifications to be so smugly patronising and dismissive of those who disagree with you?

    The supposed get-out of “context” ie, supposedly expressing sympathy for women who become royal consorts does not in my view mitigate the sheer spite and venom in the language Mantel uses to refer to Kate Middleton. She presents her as if she were a passive being without agency who was selected and put in place by some unspecified all powerful body for her consort role. That may have been true of women consorts at the time of the Tudors, but it’s demonstrably not true now, particularly given the known facts about the history of Kate Middleton’s relationship with the man she married. Or was she trying to tell us that this great all powerful establishment would have chosen the daughter of a couple of former airline staff now running a mail order party goods business from their home as the right person to be the future royal consort?

    Mantel also gratuitously describes her thus:


    But Kate Middleton, as she was, appeared to have been designed by a committee and built by craftsmen, with a perfect plastic smile and the spindles of her limbs hand-turned and gloss-varnished

    How’s that justified by “context”? This is a real young woman we’re talking about. The wording tells us rather more about the mind of Hillary Mantel than it does about the real appearance of Kate Middleton. Clue: no woman becomes a front page star because she’s some sort of living automaton.

    Then we get the sneeringly patronising:


    She looks like a nicely brought up young lady, with ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ part of her vocabulary.

    Actually, Kate Middleton managed a 2.1 in Art History at St Andrews. Possibly modest compared with some, but is Hilary Mantel’s BA in Jurisprudence from Sheffield noticeably better? How many of the Cabinet and of the writers of The Spectator did that much better?

    Then Mantel comments on a portrait of her of little serious artistic merit by a not very renowned painter as if the representation was a literal representation of what she looks like:


    But in her first official portrait by Paul Emsley, unveiled in January, her eyes are dead and she wears the strained smile of a woman who really wants to tell the painter to bugger off.

    That portrait was almost universally and scathingly criticised when it was shown as not at all a credible representation of Kate Middleton, particularly failing to capture the radiance and enjoyment which she is widely acknowledged to project.

    And there’s the rest of the “context,” which you choose to skate over as “an odd ramble”, which centrally includes her sneering and dripping de haut en bas distaste and pitying scorn for the rest of the Royal Family.

    The fact that she chooses to embed these cheap shots amongst some quite reasonable observations about the roles and the presentation of consorts from centuries ago, and from a time when monarchs played a central governing role which they don’t play in the UK today, doesn’t excuse the gross crudity of her gibes, let alone make them insightful observations on the role of Kate Middleton today.

    Reading the Wikipedia entry on Mantel suggests why she might be a less than objective writer about Kate Middleton, for whom she very modestly prescribes a present of her own book.

    Electrically brilliant, indeed!

    • HooksLaw

      Yes
      You are to be commended for the depth and breadth of your response.

    • Colonel Mustard

      Excellent riposte. The fact that you were a university academic is curiously reassuring but I do hope that you were not purged from that role by lefties.

      • Fergus Pickering

        I’m afraid someone being a university academic in no way reassures me, just as a doctorate these days is worth nothing. Anybody can have one of those.

    • Daniel Maris

      Excellent riposte Judy – I see Colonel Mustard beat me to that!

      Mantel has a most annoyingly affected air of academia about her – a cloying, constipated delivery. She’s a minor league writer of fiction, not an academic.

    • UlyssesReturns

      Might I suggest that the Spectator removes the delusional Freddy Gray as a commentator and as a far better, and more erudite replacement, installs you instead judyk113? When one looks at the deplorable general standard of response from the pea-brain lefties and trolls here, your scything destruction of Mr Gray’s nonsense is a lesson to us all. Well said indeed.

  • HooksLaw

    You would think a Booker prize winner could chose her words more carefully, not to say more diplomatically.

    It takes a strange mind to jump to this conclusion…
    ‘But in her first official portrait by Paul Emsley, unveiled in January, her eyes are dead and she wears the strained smile of a woman who really wants to tell the painter to bugger off’
    Presumably Mantel felt unable to criticise the work of a fellow ‘artist’ so she blamed the sitter!

    The best one can say about Mantel’s essay is that she is clearly in need of psychiatric help. Or was she drunk when she gave her speech? One has to look in even more disbelief at the mental processes of the Booker prize judges as well and wonder what on earth it is that passes for literature if this drivel is typical of what this woman produces.

    And when Mantel says – ‘we did memorably drive one to destruction a scant generation ago.’ she illustrates that she knows nothing of her own history. No one forced Diana into that car that night. Far from being ‘driven’ (we presume no pun was intended as puns are clearly beneath Ms Mantel) she wantonly made her own choices.

  • Smithersjones2013

    It might have been construed as an attack on the media and our perversely shallow PR celebrity obsessed society if Mantel had not started the article in the way she did.

    It is an outrageous attack because it assumes that Kate lacks either the desire, will or intellect to stop such a fabrication of her image. Mantels outline of the Duchess denies her a mind of her own (whilst being almost worshipful of the deeply flawed Diana). Furthermore, likening the Duchess to a reviled figure (“Let Them Eat Cake”) who was executed by the masses during a revolution such as Marie Antionette is asking for it.

    Now it seems to me Mantel has rather stupidly ignored what was always going to be the very obvious response from the media and wider society to her article and has set out to be particularly provocative and contraversial in an attempt to attract attention and as such she deserves anything and everything she gets.

    Mantel’s article is a perfect example of the detached arrogant sneering (and smearing) academic intellectual elitism that has so diminished our academia and in ‘educating’ the so called ‘ruling elite’ of this country has done so much to damage our society..

    It seems to me that the article is nothing more than the ravings of a nasty minded old crone who would have sat in the front row cheering as Madame La Guillotine swiftly bore down on Marie Antionette’s neck!

    They just all mouthed off because they wanted a little outrage to fill the day

    Well if you ask me it is dear Freddy who is guilty of that.

    PS I started to read it but it was so tediously indulgent in its self importance and obviously spiteful in its intent that I gave up having read the first few paragraphs and having scanned the pretentious waffle of the later paragraphs.

    • Charlie Bailey

      It’s an academic lecture for god’s sake, it demands complex language to convey complex ideas, which seems to have bamboozled the entire DM staff, and the majority of commentators on various websites who have set out to attack HM in the same shallow manner that they (wrongly) accuse her of.
      Not to mention the fact that the lecture uses history to tie together her analysis of the role and representation of royal women in both her period of expertise, and the one we are living through.
      There is more actual personal spite in your comment here than in the entire of Mantell’s lecture.

      • Smithersjones2013

        Ignoring the condesceding nature of the claptrap you have just posted, do you seriously think being downright nasty is excused because its an ‘academic lecture’? Do you seriously think that wrapping nasty personalisations in ‘complex language’ is an excuse? Do you think we should all be impressed that she uses ‘history’ in an article starts with 3 paragraphs smearing the Duchess? Well I’m glad I don’t travel in your circles.

        The first rule of writing/ speaking is to set out your principle argument in the first paragraphs.. The first three paragraphs describe Mantel’s impression of the Duchess. None of it is complimentary. The media is not mentioned until the 4th paragraph. The idea that this is anything but a poorly veiled attack on her is quite frankly risible.

        Furthermore, to compare the Duchess who is hardly well understood (having been in the public eye for so short a time) with such well researched and long standing notorious figures in history such as Marie Antionette is not only presumptious likely largely innaccurate and without question unkind in the extreme..

        Of course if Mantel did not intend to have this impact then perhaps she has an excuse although one would have to wonder what sort of out of touch idiot would naivelypresent such an piece without expecting to be savaged? After all its hardly rocket science that an article that puts a popular member of royalty in such a light would engender such a response now is it?

        Perhaps if Mantel is innocent (and I do not believe anyone in her position could be so stupid) should stick to talking about her ‘period of expertise’ and leave the contemporary monarchy and society to those who understand it far far better?

        • Charlie Bailey

          I think that just because it contains a few terms that, when taken out of context, seem to be cruel, doesn’t mean that it is. And yes, rhetoric and intellectual language doesn’t excuse personal offence, but they clearly make it harder for some people to recognise that there isn’t any to be taken here… If it had been a real ‘smear’ it would have made mention of the actual scandals (few as they may be) in a negative light, instead the worst insult Mantell seems to dish out is that Kate is passive, and this is hardly surprising given the stultifying position our royals are in with the attending press attention.

          The comparison with Marie Antoinette is pretty appropriate and not at all insulting, if you stop to consider that Marie A had been the victim of unjustified public public scrutiny and negative press during her life and since her death, and all the inaccuracies that usually brings.

          Also, not Johnny Rotten was clearly calling us all morons in that particular song, and the queen was just the symbolic embodiment of everything that he saw as wrong with the country.

          I showed in reply to your other post that its untrue that HM doesn’t set out her argument early on, its right there in the second half of the 1st paragraph, plain as day, and helps to explain why the language used is not directed at Kate in a personal manner. It may be taken as personal offence, but that is not its purpose in the essay’s line of argument.

      • Daniel Maris

        Just goes to show. She’s not an academic and here she is posing as an academic – far more fake than Kate’s glossy appearance.

        • Fergus Pickering

          @Posing as an academic’? Where is she doing that. Do you have to have a Ph.d. to talk about Marie Antoinette?

    • HooksLaw

      Correct – the whole speech (as I understand it was a speech or lecture) began with a sneer at Kate.
      Your criticism of Mr Gray is also well founded. And the veracity of her historical novels seems much in question if this is how she thinks.

  • 2trueblue

    The article is written by someone who is obsessed with appearances, sees what the person is wearing and then never describes the item, just faffs on about the clothing.
    But then we get to the bit about what clothes at the cheap end are made of and for fat people. It is a shallow observation of how the author sees things, bathed in envy and looking at the 2 photographs of the women, one looks engaging with bright eyes and the other frumpy and cross. You can tell whom I would like to speak with.

    Being a Booker prize winner does not mean that the book or the person is interesting, just that they are famous for winning the Booker prize. I did not rate the article.

  • Victor Southern

    The attack was gratuitously insulting and delivered for effect – a typical outburst from a lofty lefty. They are always so sure of their moral and intellectual superiority.

    By the way – I have read it.

    • Colonel Mustard

      “Lofty lefty”. I like that. We have our own “lofty lefty” here, imbued with the certainty of his moral and intellectual superiority, deluded that he represents all the land and that those he doesn’t don’t matter. He is a useful reminder and constant demonstration of that “lofty” and arrogant mindset.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

      Hardly. It reads very well as prose and is a very thoughtful speech at Hay-on-Wye. It is really good to read the whole text and not be fed the twisted excerpts used by the Yellow Press

      • HooksLaw

        The text is a load of contorted humbug.

        • Chris Morriss

          For someone who normally comes up with his own ‘contorted humbug’, you really are venting your spleen today aren’t you?

    • http://www.facebook.com/john.whysall.1 John Whysall

      You have read it? Perhaps you might agree that the former Miss Middleton is mentioned in — what? — three paragraphs, and then only in passing. There are a further (I count, but quickly) twenty-seven paragraphs, many extended in length and depth, which deal with other aspects.

      I certainly don’t read anything therein “gratuitously insulting and for effect”. Try the fourth paragraph, Mr Southern:

      “It is sad to think that intelligent people could devote themselves to this topic with earnest furrowings of the brow, but that’s what discourse about royals comes to: a compulsion to comment, a discourse empty of content, mouthed rather than spoken.And in the same way one is compelled to look at them: to ask what they are made of, and is their substance the same as ours.”

      Perhaps if Cameron’s SpAds had prompted him with that quotation, he would have countered every carp.

      Mantel’s next observation is provocative — for me, far more so than the “Daily Mail” take:

      “I used to think that the interesting issue was whether we should have a monarchy or not. But now I think that question is rather like, should we have pandas or not? Our current royal family doesn’t have the difficulties in breeding that pandas do, but pandas and royal persons alike are expensive to conserve and ill-adapted to any modern environment. But aren’t they interesting? Aren’t they nice to look at? Some people find them endearing; some pity them for their precarious situation; everybody stares at them, and however airy the enclosure, it’s still a cage.”

      • Victor Southern

        But I was not talking about the other content. I fail to see why an insult wrapped in a thousand words is less of an insult. Ms. Mantel writes only about “royals” and their satraps but deplores others discussing then.
        As I said – a lofty lefty.

        • http://www.facebook.com/john.whysall.1 John Whysall

          So: precisely what is “the insult” to which you object? A quotation might do — though if it’s the second half of the first paragraph, notice the context, which is specifically about tabloid images. Or, as Jessica Rabbit put it: “It’s the way they draw me.”

          • Colonel Mustard

            I think the comparison between the Royal Family and pandas is grossly offensive, as it was meant to be. And Mantel’s first sentence tells us all we need to know.

      • Daniel Maris

        The article is not the whole of the story. She answered questions from the audience.

  • Jebediah

    How stupid of you Mr. Gray, to jump in on the PM, jumping in on a women who unwarrentedly had a go at the mother to be of our future head of state. Given what happened to Diana, a warning short from a PM is probably not a bad idea.
    The comments on the Duchess, even in context, can only be interpreted as mean, rude, spiteful and unwarranted.

    • http://twitter.com/realpolitikhome realpolitikhome

      If you actually read the whole piece, you’ll know that it wasn’t having a go at Kate at all but rather our obsession with royalty, as perpetuated by the Daily Mail et al.

      • Russell

        I don’t think he was commenting on the whole piece, just the nasty lines in it. He quite correctly spoke against such spiteful and nasty lines used in the whole piece.

      • Jebediah

        I know what it said. I know the specific comments on the Duchess. If you were publicly so described by someone you don’t know, and were unable to respond, would you feel good or positive about it?

      • 2trueblue

        In what context is it ‘nice’ to describe someone in those terms? She is supposed to be brilliant in her field, shame that she did not do better.

      • Smithersjones2013

        Only an idiot would believe your interpretation. The first rule of writing is to highlight your primary argument in the first paragraphs. To start out as you intend to continue. Mantel begins by inferring the Duchess is effectively a mindless bimbo who is the modern equivalent to a royal consort who said ‘Let them eat cake’ and was executed by the masses.

        Its clear the article was intended to be contraversial, provocative and attract attention. The first three paragraphs are filled with what seems nothing more vile attacks and spiteful smears. It is not until the fourth paragraph that she even mentions the media. Mantel intended to smear the Duchess and deserves everything she gets.

        • Charlie Bailey

          1st paragraph – ‘It’s not that I think we’re heading for a revolution. It’s rather that I saw Kate becoming a jointed doll on which certain rags are hung. In those days she was a shop-window mannequin, with no personality of her own, entirely defined by what she wore. These days she is a mother-to-be, and draped in another set of threadbare attributions. Once she gets over being sick, the press will find that she is radiant. They will find that this young woman’s life until now was nothing, her only point and purpose being to give birth.’

          ‘I saw Kate becoming…’ – clearly, obviously, to anyone who follows the line of argument that its a matter of perception as defined by ‘the press’ who have shaped her public image in the ways listed. If I was to take the press coverage at face value, I’d probably have similarly harsh opinions of Kate. But that’s not the argument, rather, she is examining the problems associated with public perception informed by media. This is clearly her argument, right there at the beginning of the piece…

          Also, that was a quote attributed to Marie Antoinette but never verified.

  • http://twitter.com/Shinsei1967 Nick Reid

    The trouble is Cameron is asked (when he’s in the middle of doing other stuff, like playing cricket with some kids) by a journalist from a serious newspaper “Mr PM, what do you think about Hilary Mantel’s vicious attack on Kate Middleton ?”.

    The PM can either claim he doesn’t know what Mantel said (cue cries of “out of touch”), tell the journalist to stop asking silly questions (never a good idea to insult the press) or give a fairly innocuous “Mantel is a great writer but any criticism of Duchess of Cam are wrong as she’s a lovely person, great charity worker blah blah blah.”

    • mark_dowling

      you’d like to see the PM turn on the journo there and expose the fact that said journo hasn’t read it either but is being prompted by an SMS or email from an editor who sits around all day reading twitter.

      • HooksLaw

        You expect PMs (and leaders of the opposition) to read everything in existence – instantly?

        All of which presupposes that we believe Mr Gray.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

          No, I would never expect Cameron to engage his brain before his mouth…he is a PR man after all

          • HooksLaw

            And I would expect you to accurately reflect on what he actually said which was quite reasoned.
            We know you have no argument when you wheel out ‘PR’.

            • Cuse

              OK. Let’s rise to the HooksLaw bait.

              From the Telegraph at 19:12:

              “Mr Cameron said of Mantel: “I think she writes great books, but I think what she’s said about Kate Middleton is completely misguided and completely wrong.””

              Dave wouldn’t know how to begin to engage his brain. He blurts out tosh continuously.

              As Freddy Gray said. How stupid of Cameron. He clearly hasn’t read the full article.

              • Fergus Pickering

                Why is that tosh? It expresses what I think exactly.

    • Smithersjones2013

      Now there is a response from someone who does know how to fabricate personal images…….

      In this case I think the PM should just say what he thinks and if it is to rebuke some upstart academic then so be it…….

    • Cuse

      Oooohhh. Poor likkle Dave, asked to talk about something when he’s doing something else.

      Poor likkle diddums, Having to have an opinion on something.

  • Grrr8

    Freddy old bean, I’m sure 99.9% of those screaming outrage at Ms. Mantel haven’t read the article either. For them, the article is merely an excuse for a spat. And DC realising this, is playing along.

    The DailyFail probably did read the article, and recognised that they were being skewered. Hence the vengeful article from them.

    I read the article and thought it was rather good. I also don’t think the Royals have a right to privacy. Their existence is after all a constitutional matter and their cage is well gilded.

    • telemachus

      Good , Good?

      Mantel said: “I saw Kate becoming a jointed doll on which certain rags are hung. In those days she was a shop-window mannequin, with no personality of her own, entirely defined by what she wore.

      You approve of this

      • Charlie Bailey

        Yep, can’t see much to disagree with there, its a critical observation on the representations of Kate, not an attack. Just peruse any of the fluff pieces that make up the body of coverage of the young royals and its difficult to argue with.

        • Wessex Man

          That none of you seem to think that the Prime Minister of this Country, can react without checking that the information is correct, is a worry.

          I just hope that if someone tells him the Russians have launched missiles at us he will make sure before he fires ours back!

          • HooksLaw

            As quite a few people comment (after looking at the article) the PM was right to be critical.
            To put it simply Mantel accuses the media of ‘threadbare attributions’ and then goes on to make a whole series of her own, driven by her own clear prejudices.

            Pathetic.

            • Wessex Man

              He’s a bandwagon boy much like yourself hooky baby.

        • telemachus

          What about respect?

      • Grrr8

        Yes its honest criticism.

        • telemachus

          It is manifestly not true
          Within the confines of her role she is modifying the future monarchy

    • HooksLaw

      You have joint a select group who have made telemachs’ point sound sensible.

  • http://twitter.com/realpolitikhome realpolitikhome

    He shouldn’t have commented at all. This is really none of his business, let alone on a trade mission to India. Why does he (or his advisers) feel the need that the PM has to comment on absolutely everything?

    • statechaos

      If he hadn’t replied that would be spun as passive agreement with the comments. He is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t. Funny how this has turned into criticism of the PM and not the insensitivity of Mantel and her comments. I hope the PM has better things to do than read what she said, it’s a pity the media don’t have better things to do either.

  • Daniel Maris

    We all like a spade to be called a spade unless we are the spade. Would Hilary Mantel like to be called a bug eyed barren old crone? I doubt it, however accurate it might or might not be.

    • Jebediah

      Or indeed if the comment was buried in an article entitled “The historical context of those criticising royals for their own gain.”

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

      I thought was now illegal to call someone a Spade ? You are Ace Daniel. Why can’t she say what she thinks ? Is it Lese-Mejeste ?

      • Daniel Maris

        I don’t want to stop Mantel giving her opinion but I have a right to comment on her opinion.

        On the question of Spade, I don’t think I’ve heard of a Black man (it was only used to refer to men) who ever objected to being called a Spade. It was a kind of a compliment as I recall, meant to signify something cool and v. masculine. Of course it could have intensifiers attached but so can other inoffensive terms like American, Aussie etc.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

          2. Offensive Slang Used as a disparaging term for a
          Black person.

    • Charlie Bailey

      Missing the point…HM has not directed those choice quotes at Kate in a personal fashion, but rather they are her critical interpretation of what media coverage is presenting Kate as.

      • telemachus

        Nonsense
        It is calculated disrespect

        • Charlie Bailey

          Equally nonsensical, and even if that were the case, calculated disrespect is one of our most respected traditions in British literature and thought.

          • HooksLaw

            She sneered at her portrait image and put forth a disrespectful purely conjectural reason. It was a pathetic speech which if it had anything to say could have been said far more clearly simply and with less grandiloquence. God knows what her books are like.

            • 2trueblue

              Not the Duchesses fault that the artist was also rubbish. Both lauded as brilliant, one can’t paint a true likeness and the other can’t find words to aptly describe the Duchess, yet both lauded by the left as brilliant. Says it all.

            • Fergus Pickering

              You could find that out by reading them, sir. Her account of her childhood is beautifully written and immediately entitles her to respect. Read it, you ignorant fellow before you run off at the mouth.

          • Daniel Maris

            Well I for one have not said Mantel should be censored. I have said she should be censured. There’s a difference you know.

            • Charlie Bailey

              Why you’re addressing me with this comment? I never mentioned either of those, and yes I am aware of the difference, thanks for the trivia 🙂
              By way of response, I wouldn’t advocate either course of action, instead I’d suggest that everyone caught up in the sudden rush to the barricades on either side stop, take a deep breath and go do something important, like perhaps not taking offence on someone so utterly remote’s behalf; maybe give the royals in question an opportunity to prove Mantel wrong by doing something that will show them in a new and nuanced way. Nothing to be gained for anyone by hounding authors for having opinions more nuanced than Katie Price, or rushing to deride royalists.
              This has been a diverting, but ultimately fluff issue and hopefully we can resume a debate about something important in the near future. Wishing you all well, good night.

              • 2trueblue

                The comments were made in what is supposedly a serious piece, that is lauded as brilliant. Strange that she should find it appropriate to make an overt attack on the Duchess. What was she trying to prove? Was she just trying to impress her Gaurdian friends?

                • Fergus Pickering

                  I think you may b wrong about Hilary Mantel’s politics.

                • 2trueblue

                  Why?

          • telemachus

            Not applied to the vulnerable
            It was in 1950’s Spain

        • Fergus Pickering

          Disrespect? Why is Kate Middleton to be respected? She is an ordinary fairly genial rich person.

          • telemachus

            Society that loses its respect loses its soul

      • Daniel Maris

        For some reason the Today programme gave her comments free reign for about ten minutes. Many of them were in response to audience questions.

        They were clearly her views.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

          free reign Try “rein”

          • Daniel Maris

            Sorry – should know better…it’s the monarchical theme!

    • john

      Once again Britain shows it’s rapidly reverting to the social deference of the 1950s.

      Miss Middleton’s totally unwarrented elevation to fantasy Windsor land is an insult to the people of a mature country. Her dramatic career advancement is based solely on her reeling in of the heir to the throne. Hilary Mantel rightly points out the ludicrous nature of the role of the royal family and the comical sycophancy it generates. Cameron is a pathetic reincarnation of some Tory grandee of yesteryear and can be counted on to trot out traditional Establishment platitudes.

      I doubt Hilary Mantel would be much worried by insults aimed at her appearance – she has achieved spectacular success by her own abilities.

      • HooksLaw

        From the word ‘unwarranted’ onwards your screed reeks of ignorance and prejudice.

        • john

          Au contraire – The term is exactly appropriate. Perhaps you could explain what warrented this dramatic elevation?

      • Daniel Maris

        John,

        It’s not a matter of deference. I am perfectly happy to have a go at Royals who don’t know their place (e.g. Charles trying to foist Sharia on us).

        If you can’t tell Hilary Mantel is extremely sensitive about her appearance, you are a poor judge of character.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

        The term “Royal Family” days it all…we were better off with a Monarchy rather than a soap opera

    • Chris Morriss

      Hilary Mantel is a writer of considerable ability, whereas Kate Middleton is a supermarket check-out girl made good. Albeit a check-out girl from a better class supermarket. Perhaps a branch of Waitrose, or a Sainsburys in a solidly middle-class area.

      • Daniel Maris

        Well whether she is of “considerable” ability is a matter of debate. I found her first big book (Beyond Black) extremely tedious and poorly constructed.

        As for Kate Middleton, she’s never pretended to be something she isn’t as far as I know – unlike Mantel (who seems to be under the mistaken assumption that she is an academic and maybe even an aphorist, when in fact she is simply reasonably proficient with words).

        • 2trueblue

          Always avoid the Booker prize winners.

        • Chris Morriss

          Surely her first ‘big book’ was the lauded French Revolution novel, ‘A Place of Greater Safety’. A very long time before the book you quote.

      • 2trueblue

        Mantel is not light on her feet, whatever her talents in the literary area. It is going to take some footwork to clear up her nasty remarks. She is lauded as being a brilliant writer and yet has put her feet right in it. Reading and listening to her offerings she does not come across as brilliant, astute, or someone whom one could look back and say that she described the period authentically. She comes across as a jealous, left wing frump.

    • telemachus

      likewise that dreadful apology Julie Burchill echoes Mantel in the Mail as Diana Light
      Studied disrespect

    • Fergus Pickering

      No need to be rude. She looks the way she does because she suffers from a disease, something you obviously didn’t bother to find out. Barren old crone like Mrs Merkel no doubt, or Teresa May. Wash your mouth out with soap.

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