"She is an intelligent woman": Kate"s charity colleagues react to Hilary Mantel comments

The head of a charity supported by the Kate Middleton has hit back at Hilary Mantel”s extraordinary attack on her, saying she is an “intelligent” woman who is proving to be a huge asset to the causes she backs.

Nick Barton, chief executive of Action on Addiction, said the Booker prize-winning author was entirely wrong to characterise the Duchess as a clothes horse whose only purpose was to give birth.

Speaking ahead of a visit by the Duchess to Hope House, an addiction recovery centre for women in Clapham, south London, Mr Barton said: “I can only speak of what I know, and having met the Duchess several times I find her to be engaging, natural and genuinely interested in the subject.

“You can tell a lot about someone from the questions they ask and she asks really good questions, the questions of someone who wants to learn. She is also an intelligent woman.

“Having her as Patron of the charity draws attention to the cause of addiction as a whole, which is not always an easy subject.

“She is doing an enormous amount to reduce the stigma of addiction and increase understanding of it.”

The Duchess, who is almost halfway through her pregnancy, will be carrying out her first official engagement of the year this morning when she visits Hope House, a 22-bed residential facility for women from all over the country to get over addictions to drugs and alcohol.

Action on Addiction is one of five charities of which the Duchess is patron, and during her 90-minute visit she will spend time with women who are in recovery.

Dozens of photographers and TV crews gathered in the street outside the building to get the first officially-sanctioned pictures of the Duchess since Christmas.

Last week photographs of her in a bikini on a beach in Mustique, showing a slight pregnancy bump, were published by magazines in Australia and Italy, but the pictures were not published in the UK after St James’s Palace complained that they amounted to an invasion of privacy.