Kate puts her baby bump on parade as Prime Minister mauls best-selling author Hilary Mantel over 'plastic princess made for breeding' jibe

The Duchess of Cambridge yesterday admitted she was nervous about giving birth, as the Prime Minister stepped in to defend her against novelist Hilary Mantel’s ‘plastic princess’ attack.

Kate, who is more than four months pregnant, revealed her baby bump for the first time at a public engagement when she visited a treatment centre run by the charity Action on Addiction.

She spoke of her worries about the birth as she chatted to a group of women recovering from drink and drug addictions at Hope House in Clapham, South-West London.

Scroll down for video and Hilary Mantel's speech

duchessFlower girl: Kate stopped to chat to two youngsters who proudly presented her with flowers after her visit to Hope House today

Wearing a patterned wrap dress by upmarket High Street label MaxMara, the 31-year-old duchess seemed proud of her gently swelling stomach, holding it protectively.

Kate, who is patron of the charity, was asked about her pregnancy by recovering alcoholic, Lisa, as she sat at a table with women taking part in an art therapy class. The 34-year-old mother of three said: ‘I asked her if she was nervous about having a child and she said it would be unnatural if she wasn’t. It’s just human, isn’t it?’
Natalie, 28, a former drug addict and alcoholic, told the duchess about her own pregnancy.

‘I told her I’m expecting a baby at about the same time as her [in July]. She was saying she had been unwell but she was feeling better now.’

It was Kate’s first official engagement since before Christmas, when she spent time in hospital with a severe form of morning sickness.






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The Duchess of Cambridge made two youngsters happy when she accepted their bouquet of flowers after she visited a charity she supports



It was always bound to attract huge public interest, but even the duchess could not have predicted just how much the spotlight would have been upon her.


Hours earlier the Mail reported comments made by double Booker prize-winner Miss Mantel in a lecture at the British Museum in which she described the future Queen as a ‘machine-made’ princess, ‘designed by a committee’.

Pugh cartoon


But where the author described her as a personality-free ‘shop window mannequin’ with a ‘plastic smile’, thousands of Britons leapt to her defence saying the Duchess is a warm, intelligent woman.

Mantel, 60, compared Kate unfavourably to both Anne Boleyn – one of her historical heroines – and to Princess Diana, insisting both had more personality.

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.

Mantel said Kate ‘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’.

Now David Cameron, while on a trip to India, has waded into the row to support the pregnant Duchess.

He said that Hilary Martel is 'a great writer' but described her comments on Kate as 'a hurtful thing to say', according to reports.

He described the comments about the Duchess of Cambridge as 'completely misguided and completely wrong'.

'You can tell a lot about someone from the questions they ask and she asks really good questions, the questions of someone who wants to learn. She is also an intelligent woman.

'Having her as Patron of the charity draws attention to the cause of addiction as a whole, which is not always an easy subject.

'She is doing an enormous amount to reduce the stigma of addiction and increase understanding of it.'

Presenter Lauren Laverne came out in defence of the Duchess, Tweeting: 'I mean, I know she won that Booker and everything but if you can't say anything nice... #Mantel.

And businessman Chris Smith wrote: '#Hilary #Mantel seems to be looking for a bit of cheap publicity by taking pop shots at those people the public love! #cheapstunt'.

Eleanor Bennett wrote: 'That Hilary Mantel doesn't need to be such a boot towards Kate Middleton' while another user, David Ward, wrote: 'With friends like Hilary Mantel, who needs enemies'.






duchessPregnanr: Residents 'fell in love' with the Duchess during her visit to Hope House residential centre as she showed off her baby bump for the first time

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The Duchess made no attempt to disguise her gently swelling stomach, standing with her hands clasped under her bump




The Prime Minister told the BBC: 'What I've seen of Princess Kate at public events, at the Olympics and elsewhere is this is someone who's bright, who's engaging, who's a fantastic ambassador for Britain.

'We should be proud of that, rather than make these rather misguided remarks.'

The head of a charity supported by the Duchess of Cambridge has hit back at Hilary Mantel’s extraordinary attack on her, saying she is an 'intelligent' woman who is proving to be a huge asset to the causes she backs.

Nick Barton, chief executive of Action on Addiction, said the Booker prize-winning author was entirely wrong to characterise the Duchess as a clothes horse whose only purpose was to give birth.

Speaking ahead of a visit by the Duchess to Hope House, an addiction recovery centre for women in Clapham, south London, Mr Barton said: 'I can only speak of what I know, and having met the Duchess several times I find her to be engaging, natural and genuinely interested in the subject.



duchessKate visits the kitchens at Hope House residential centre. The Duchess, who is patron of the centre, spent over an hour talking to people at the Home



The Duchess of Cambridge visits the art therapy group as she visits the kitchens at Hope HouseThe Duchess of Cambridge visits the art therapy group as she visits the kitchens at Hope House
KateGlowing: The Duchess of Cambridge showed off her healthy complexion today after recovering from severe morning sickness




duchessAll smiles! The Duchess brushed off the furore to enjoy her visit meeting the residents and staff of the charity she supports



duchessThe Duchess visited the kitchen and chatted to chefs, before attending an art therapy class where she listened to residents' stories

Twitter user Shahid Miah ‏wrote: '#HilaryMantel getting publicity 4 comments on Duchess of Cambridge. Yes, Duchess has 2 fake smile but everything else is surely genuine, no?'

The London Review of Books attempted to clarify the comments made by Mantel about the Duchess of Cambridge, saying the author was actually criticising the media and their portrayal of the Royal family.


What Mantel really wrote is about how the media make the royals suffer.

In her lecture's summary she said: 'I'm asking us to back off and not be brutes.'

The Duchess, who is almost halfway through her pregnancy, carried out her first official engagement of the year this morning when she visited Hope House, a 22-bed residential facility for women from all over the country to get over addictions to drugs and alcohol.

Action on Addiction is one of five charities of which the Duchess is patron, and she spent her time there speaking to women who are in recovery and congratulating those who are on the road back to sobriety.

Her visit came after the lecture, where Mantel said the Duchess was quite unlike Anne Boleyn, who was ‘a power player, a clever and determined woman.’




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The Duchess of Cambridge today visited one of her charities, Action on Addiction, as Hilary Mantel faced a huge backlash for her comments. Kate's pregnancy bump could just be seen as she entered the charity's HQ

Catherine The Duchess of CambridgeWarm reception: After being slated as 'plastic' by Hilary Mantel, Kate received huge cheers when she arrived at Hope House in South London today




Mantel contrasted her appearance to Prince William’s mother, Diana, ‘whose human awkwardness and emotional incontinence showed in her every gesture’.

Mantel, the author of Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies, the acclaimed novels which detail the failure of Henry VIII’s wives to produce an heir, used a lecture to examine the prospects for the future queen consort.
Prime Minister David Cameron said Mantel's comments were 'misguided'Prime Minister David Cameron said Mantel's comments were 'misguided'


Mantel said that when she first saw Kate Middleton, she struck her as ‘a shop-window mannequin, with no personality of her own, entirely defined by what she wore.’

Prince William’s wife-to-be was as ‘painfully thin as anyone could wish, without quirks, without oddities, without the risk of the emergence of character’.

She added: ‘Presumably Kate was designed to breed in some manners.

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

Mantel spoke of Kate’s appearance in her first official portrait since marrying William, painted by Paul Emsley, which was unveiled last month.

She said: ‘Her eyes are dead and she wears the strained smile of a woman who really wants to tell the painter to bugger off.’

Mantel went on to say that female Royals were ‘at the most basic... breeding stock, collections of organs.’

St James’s Palace last week criticised a magazine for printing pictures of Kate’s baby bump taken during a break on the Caribbean island of Mustique.

And they were furious last year when pictures of her topless on holiday were printed in Italy – saying ‘a red line had been crossed.’

But Mantel suggested Kate could have few complaints about private pictures of her being taken on holiday – observing: ‘The royal body exists to be looked at.’

‘Some people find them endearing; some pity them for their precarious situation; everybody stares at them, and however airy the enclosure they inhabit, it’s still a cage.’

Mantel gave the London Review of Books lecture ‘Undressing Anne Boleyn’ at the British Museum on the February 4. The full version of her speech is to be published in the latest edition of the London Review of Books, out on February 21.

The Duchess talks to children on Royal visit to Hope House in London



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The Duchess beamed at well wishers who cheered as she arrived, as thousands have criticised Mantel's lecture about her




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The Duchess has had thousands come out in support of her after Hilary Mantel questioned her character


Ingrid Seward, editor-in-chief of Majesty magazine, said Mantel’s comments were unfair.

She said that although Diana had at first seemed ‘bland’, later ‘we learned about all the troubles of her marriage and her personality began to shine through. Kate might yet come into her own.’

She added that Kate’s duties meant she ‘can’t do anything that might reveal (her) personality.

‘They have to be nice to everyone. They are probably stupefyingly bored but they can’t appear to be having anything other than a nice time.’

Kate returned to work today with the merest hint of a baby bump.

Looked tanned after her recent holiday in Mustique, Kate braved a chill morning in London wearing only a grey patterned wrap dress by upmarket High Street range Max Mara.
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