Silence of the Duchess: Sandi Toksvig wants Kate Middleton to speak out more, but imagine the fury it would cause if she did

We know nothing of what goes on in Kate's mind - and shouldn't expect to

Share
Related Topics

Here is a story that illustrates much about the modern world. A woman known for speaking her mind criticises another woman for not speaking her mind, and as a result she (the first woman) is criticised for speaking her mind.

Sandi Toksvig is not everyone's cup of herbal tea, but she hardly represents the forces of sedition. In one of those question-and-answer newspaper interviews - perfectly satirised in Private Eye as "Me and My Spoon" - Ms Toksvig posited the idea that "Kate Middleton is not enough for me", saying that the  Duchess of Cambridge's apparent lack of a world view is "very Jane Austen". "I can't think of a single opinion she holds," said Ms Toksvig, who, in the course of the interview, also "revealed" that she (Ms Toksvig) likes being 5ft tall, that she got a red scooter for her fourth birthday, and that she learnt how to do plumbing from an instruction manual.

It's safe to say that she was not exactly courting controversy in offering up some random thoughts. But unsurprisingly, in the wake of Booker Prize winner Hilary Mantel making similar comments about the Duchess, Ms Toksvig found herself in the papers, characterised as something of a Republican rabble-rouser.

Should we really care what Sandi Toksvig thinks about Kate Middleton? With due respect to her excellence as host of The News Quiz on Radio 4, she's not quite a national figure whose every utterance is of import. Even in the roster of prominent lesbians, she ranks a long way behind the saintly Clare Balding. Much more interesting to find out what Kate Middleton thinks of Sandi Toksvig. Oh well, I suppose we'll never be told. We don't know anything of what goes on in the Duchess's mind, and in a world where hardly any thought goes unexpressed, and hardly any expression goes without comment, that may be a very positive position for someone who lives squarely in the public eye. In any case, what fury would be unleashed if she suddenly started opining about everything from X-Factor to the bedroom tax?

Ms Toksvig, in comparing Kate Middleton to an Austen heroine, said: "We used to admire women who got their place in life through marriage and having children, but I'd like to think we've grown up a bit." Well, only up to a point. I'm not sure how the more conservative forces in the media would react if the wife of the second in line to the throne took a political stance, like, say, her late mother-in-law. Or, rather, I am sure. She'd be forcibly encouraged to get back in her box, accused of abusing her privileged position - as a royal - to influence public debate, and criticised for neglecting her God-given position - as a woman and mother-to-be - to meddle in matters that are not her business. A grown-up society? I don't think so.

Sandi Toksvig claimed that she was once in the running to present Have I Got News For You but was told: "We can't possibly have a woman in charge of the news". She, more than anyone, should be able to understand why the Duchess of Cambridge has taken a vow of silence.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Assistant / Credit Controller

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are an award-winning digit...

Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform Engineer - VMware / SAN / Tier3 DC

£45000 - £55000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform En...

Recruitment Genius: Purchasing Assistant

£10000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger Assistant

£17000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Daily catch-up: We Are Not Syriza; and the riddle of an imitation Sphinx in China

John Rentoul
Labour and the Liberal Democrats would both end winter fuel allowances for pensioners with enough income to pay the 40p tax rate  

Politicians court the grey vote because pensioners, unlike the young, vote

Andrew Grice
Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable