Author Hilary Mantel has died “suddenly yet peacefully” aged 70, her publisher Harper Collins said on Friday 23 September.
Fans and peers of the prolific British writer are paying tribute to her many critically adored works, including the Wolf Hall trilogy set during the Tudor period.
As well as writing about historical royal figures, Mantel was also known for her observations about the current British royal family.
In September last year, she said that she did not believe that Prince George, the eldest son of the Prince and Princess of Wales, would ever be crowned king.
She also estimated that the royal family could be defunct within two generations.
“I think it’s a fair prediction, but let’s say I wouldn’t put money on it,” she told The Times. “It’s hard to understand the thinking behind the monarchy in the modern world when people are just seen as celebrities.”
Prince George is the eldest child of Prince William and Kate Middleton, Princess of Wales. He is currently the second in line to the throne, behind his father. He was third in line until King Charles succeeded his mother, the late Queen Elizabeth II, following her death on 8 September 2022.
Mantel claimed at the time that the Queen and Charles did their jobs “as well as anyone possibly could”, and “take it as seriously as anyone could”.
Asked about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s much-publicised disputes with the royal family, she said: “I’ve tried to sort of keep out of the Meghan thing because I think it’s far too soon to have an opinion. And anyway, all of us commentators are part of the problem.
“I’d like us all to say less. And let them have a chance to find some resolution.”
In 2013, Mantel caused controversy when she referred to the Princess of Wales as a “shop window mannequin” whose sole purpose was to provide an heir to the throne.
During a lecture at the British Museum, she claimed that the Duchess had no personality and described her as “gloss-varnished”.
She was subsequently criticised by public figures including the then-prime minister, David Cameron, who said Mantel was “completely wrong” in her remarks.
However, Mantel defended her comments, saying her words were taken out of context and she was in fact describing the perception of the Duchess created by the media.
She told host Anne McElvoy on BBC Radio 3’s Night Waves: “My lecture and the subsequent essay was actually supportive of the royal family and when I used those words about the Duchess of Cambridge, I was describing the perception of her which has been set up in the tabloid press.
“My speech ended with a plea to the press and to the media in general. I said, ‘Back off and don’t be brutes. Don’t do to this young woman what you did to Diana.’
“My whole theme was the way we maltreat royal persons, making them one superhuman, and yet less than human.”
Mantel was awarded a CBE in the 2006 Birthday Honours, and made Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBW) in 2014, for her services to literature.