Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

Duchess envy: Why do they snipe at young, pretty and popular Kate Middleton?

Pippa and Kate Middleton
Pippa and Kate Middleton

Why such carping at the Duchess of Cambridge? Some kind of PC-spite against a pregnant woman? Jealousy? Spite?

Hilary Mantel has defended her attack, claiming the usual cheap politicians' garbage about misrepresentation by the Press while still maintaining her views. They included the opinion that Kate is "as painfully thin as anyone could wish ... without the risk of the emergence of character". "Designed by a committee", she has "a perfect plastic smile".

It's as well Kate is also gorgeous because were she overweight, plain and with a wonky eye, Mantel would be hounded out of town for simple abuse.

Mantel also describes a peculiar encounter she had with the Queen, where the author forensically passed her "eyes over her as a cannibal views his dinner". Sadly, Mantel doesn't use her fictional gifts to imagine what HM may have made of the presence staring at her. Rather more meat than bone, I'd say.

And then along comes Sandi Toksvig. The chair of Radio 4's The News Quiz lamented that Kate's popularity was based on a good marriage and having children. She "can't think of a single opinion she (Middleton) holds – it's very Jane Austen".

That's Kate put in her box then. Very pass remarkable as we say in these parts. Still, it helps generate a few paragraphs in a Sunday profile.

Perhaps, Toksvig should take her critique of undeserved fame a bit deeper and consider why, to pick a subject at random, so disproportionate a percentage of graduates of the Cambridge Footlights end up with nice little media careers.

Or perhaps there's no mystery – maybe it's just an indisputable fact that the privileged alumni of the Glee club of an ancient university are naturally funny people whose talents call out for jobs at the BBC and C4 and profiles in the Observer. Funnier certainly than graduates of redbrick universities.

It might be useful if one of these heavyweights could discover the origin of the propensity among female intellectuals to kick seven bells out of any other female who just happens to be young, beautiful and popular. Surely we need their tremendous intelligence to uncover what on earth it could be?

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