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

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

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: how to spell BBQ and other linguistic irregularities

Guy Keleny
 

South Africa's race problem is less between black and white than between poor blacks and immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa

John Carlin
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own