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Let it never be said that the British aren't loyal to their princess! After some seemingly unflattering things were written about Kate Middleton by novelist Hilary Mantel, all of England rushed to her defense. That includes Prime Minister David Cameron, who told BBC News that Mantel's criticisms were "completely misguided."
"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," said the PM. "We should be proud of that, rather than make these rather misguided remarks."
So what exactly did Mantel say that has everyone so riled up? Her essay can be read right here, but it's very long -- which may be why most of its critics don't seem to have actually read it. Instead, they've picked out choice passages like this one:
Kate Middleton, as she was, appeared to have been designed by a committee and built by craftsmen, with a perfect plastic smile.
And this one:
Kate seems to have been selected for her role of princess because she was irreproachable: as painfully thin as anyone could wish, without quirks, without oddities, without the risk of the emergence of character. She appears precision-made, machine-made.
Given how much everyone loves Kate, seeing her referred to as "plastic" and "without character" is a little startling. Thing is, the author isn't actually saying that Middleton is fake with no personality. Instead, she's pointing out that being a member of the royal family comes with many impossible expectations; essentially, you have to be as perfect as possible. She points out that this is the thing that drove Princess Diana into despair, and she worries that Middleton is working so hard at being ideal and inoffensive that she's headed for a similar fate. Mantel isn't criticizing the Duchess of Cambridge; she's asking everyone to step back for a moment and let her be a human being.
This actually seems pretty reasonable. Who doesn't want to know Kate better? What does she like to talk about? What does she find funny? (The British royals are a pretty humorless lot, overall.) Kate is already the most relatable member of the royal family because she was once a commoner, like us. She doesn't have a "realness" problem. Her problem is that she's allowed to show us so little of herself.
Ironically, Kate actually is showing a little more of herself these days -- literally. During her first public appearance of 2013 on Tuesday, Middleton displayed her baby bump for the first time. The event was a visit to Hope House, a residential home for recovering female alcoholics. The Duchess looked predictably lovely, and yes -- dare we say it -- perfect.