Kate Middleton has been verbally attack by the Booker Prize winning novelist Hilary Mantel, who described the Duchess of Cambridge as a "shop-window mannequin" with absolutely no personality, whose only purpose in life is to breed. Wowzers, pretty heavy going stuff huh? During a lecture at the British Museum, Mantel - author of the classic novel Wolf Hall - said Kate appeared "gloss-varnished," with a perfect plastic smile.

Kate Middleton, Hope House, LondonHilary Mantel, Costa Book Awards

Kate Middleton [L] Has Come Under Fire From Award Winning Novelist Hilary Mantel [R]

The lecture, entitled Royal Bodies, was on royal women under the public gaze across history. It's no real surprise that Mantel took aim at Middleton - a contemporary royal in the celebrity world - given she's dedicated most of her life to researching and writing about historical figures of yesteryear. "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 said.

Of course, there were comparisons with the Duke Of Cambridge's late mother Princess Diana of Wales. Mantel added, "She appears precision-made, machine-made: so different from Diana, whose human awkwardness and emotional incontinence showed in her every gesture." And the criticism didn't stop there, with Mantel - whose latest novels are set in the Tudor court - suggesting Kate would become a "jointed-doll on which certain rags are hung," adding, "In those days [Kate] was a shop-window mannequin, with no personality of her own, entirely defined by what she wore. These days, she is a mother-to-be, and draped in another set of threadbare attributions. Once she gets over being sick, the press will find that she is radiant. They will find that this young woman's life until now was nothing, her only point and purpose being to give birth."

Oh, and she condemned Kate's first official portrait, just for the hell of it. The eyes were dead, she said, and the sitter wore "the strained smile of a woman who really wants to tell the painter to bugger off."