Hilary Mantel Is Obviously Not A Royal Fan

Author Hilary Mantel recently described the Duchess of Cambridge as "painfully thin" and a "shop-window mannequin, with no personality of her own" draped in nice clothes. This has caused consternation among the Duchess' fans, even among those who don't pay much attention to royal goings-on.

Don't be fooled: Mantel's comments are not directed solely at Kate. They are directed at the monarchy as a whole. Never mind that Mantel is a contributor to the republican-leaning Guardian newspaper. She has made a few points that struck me, and I think they are worth noting.

Prince Charles is the heir to the throne, and he has more official responsibilities than second-in-line Prince William and his wife. Of course we all know that the Queen is not about to step down any time soon, either. So where does this leave the Cambridges? The institution insists that the Duke and Duchess represent the royal family, but at the same time they can't overshadow the Queen or Charles. They have to strike a balance: they are working royals, but William mainly works as a helicopter pilot, and Kate is patron of a small group of charities.

That said, I think this would all be more agreeable if Kate had come into the Royal Family with a solid working background. The Duchess has a great degree, but she never pursued a career with it. For a decade, Kate worked on and off for her parents' party supply company. Unfortunately, it was a job outstripped by relentless parties and Kate's outings with William. The real telling moment came when it was assured that Kate was most likely going to be William's wife. Miss Middleton hastily pulled together a half-hearted part-time job only when all eyes were definitively on her.

Now, as an actual member of "The Firm", she has taken small steps to become patron of various charities, but without real enthusiasm for a career before the marriage, what makes anyone believe that Kate will work for Queen and Country now?

If Kate had come into the monarchy like the Countess of Wessex or like many of Europe's princesses - with a degree and a professional background - I believe the public and people like Hilary Mantel would be a bit less critical of the Duchess taking her time to find her footing and taking a back seat.

All we have at the moment is a young lady who is known mostly for her clothing and brushing her expensively coiffed hair out of her face, grinning widely. We are not allowed to see what Kate is really made of, both by her own design and the wishes of the Palace.

One day, the Duchess can change that perception herself. I hope she will still be willing to do so.


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