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19 February 2013, 11:41
The Duchess of Cambridge has been defended by a charity chief executive after being criticised by novelist Hilary Mantel.
Nick Barton, who heads Action on Addiction, which Kate supports as patron, described her as an "intelligent" woman genuinely interested in the work of his organisation.
During a lecture at the British Museum, Mantel, the double Booker Prize winner, said Kate appeared to have been "gloss-varnished" with a perfect plastic smile, in contrast to Princess Diana, who she described as awkward and emotionally incontinent.
She said "painfully thin" Kate was selected for her role of princess because she posed no risk of showing any character.
Kate is touring the addiction charity's Hope House treatment centre in Clapham, south London.
Asked for his reaction to Mantel's criticisms, Nick Barton said: "I don't think it's for me to comment on that kind of stuff. I speak of what I know - somebody who wants to help, is helpful and genuinely interested and is intelligent.
"I've met her several times and I found her to be engaging, I found her very natural, I found her actually genuinely interested in the subject.
"You can tell a lot from people's questions and she asks really good questions. They're not routine stuff, they're questions of someone who wants to learn. I find her very easy to deal with."