Mantel won the top prize for novelists, the Booker, twice, both times for historical novels that examine the life of Thomas Cromwell, a statesman in the court of the savage Henry VIII. So Mantel knows a bit more about royalty than your average punter. Looking at those comments in isolation they do sound harsh. Harsh comments aimed at the British royals will, of course, please some people no end. But to the doughty, patriotic, lower-middle-class tabloids anything that denigrates the House of Windsor is taken as a personal slight on behalf of every right-thinking Briton alive. The operation had something fantastic about it, as though the newspaper editors were intent on inserting some monstrous Amazonian butterfly into a test tube, alive. Mantel's speech is long, thoughtful, interesting, and intellectually challenging. Which is natural because Mantel is a smart, educated, creative woman. To bring such a thing into contact with the grubby tools of Fleet Street is to guarantee some sort of damage, so Mantel is currently, as I said, lying low. If you have a free hour, listen to Mantel talking. It's worth it. It's not worth reading the stories that caused all this trouble, but check out the bottom link above as well, because he said first what I wanted to say. There you have it.