LONDON — A novelist, a duchess and a tabloid newspaper have ignited an explosive debate in Britain: Is it all right to criticize a pregnant Kate?
The Daily Mail on Tuesday ran a front-page broadside against two-time Booker Prize-winning author Hilary Mantel for what it called her “venomous attack” on the former Kate Middleton, now the duchess of Cambridge.
Within hours, the Internet was ablaze. Prime Minister David Cameron joined in the criticism of Mantel while others rushed to her defense.
In a speech earlier this month, the writer had characterized the 31-year-old wife of Prince William as “a jointed doll on which certain rags were hung … a shop-window mannequin, with no personality of her own.”
Mantel said that Kate, as a royal consort, “appeared to have been designed by committee and built by craftsmen, with a perfect plastic smile and the spindles of her limbs hand-turned and gloss-varnished.”
Mantel’s speech, made at the British Museum and reprinted this week in the London Review of Books, was about the British public’s complex relationship with royalty over the centuries — a relationship both symbiotic and voyeuristic.
The speech looked at the way the public and the media glorify and destroy royals, from Anne Boleyn to Princess Diana, casting them in roles and stories in which “adulation can swing to persecution, within hours.”
The Daily Mail’s front page juxtaposed pictures of the author and the duchess alongside the headline: “A plastic princess designed to breed.”
It quoted Mantel’s speech at length, although it did not note that the 60-year-old author was describing what she saw as a view of Kate constructed by the media and public opinion.
Online reaction was divided, with some defending Mantel’s words as provocative and thoughtful and others calling them hurtful.
Cameron said Mantel’s comments were “completely misguided and completely wrong.”
NBC hires Axelrod as political analyst
NEW YORK — David Axelrod, former strategist and aide to President Obama, has landed a new job at NBC News.
The network said Tuesday that Axelrod is joining as a senior political analyst. He’ll contribute to broadcasts on both NBC News and the cable network MSNBC.
Axelrod helped run Obama’s successful campaigns in 2008 and 2012 and worked as an adviser to the president during his first term.
The former political writer and columnist for the Chicago Tribune started his own political and media consulting firm in 1984.
NBC already employs Steve Schmidt, a top adviser to Obama’s 2008 opponent John McCain, as an analyst.
Clive Davis says he’s bisexual
NEW YORK — Record executive Clive Davis says he’s bisexual.
In his new memoir, the twice-divorced 80-year-old reveals that he had sex with a man in the 1970s. Davis writes in “The Soundtrack of My Life” that he hadn’t been repressed or confused during his marriages and that sex with a man “provided welcome relief.”
He also writes that he started dating a man from 1990 to 2004, a “tough adjustment” for his son Mitchell. He says after “one trying year,” he and his son worked things out.
Davis is the father of three and the chief creative officer of Sony Music Entertainment. He writes that he’s been in a “strong monogamous relationship” with a man for the last seven years.