Kate Middleton looks fabulous in MaxMara Wrap Dress

She may be the centre of some stern criticism of late, from Booker prize winner author Hilary Mantel, who dubbed her ‘plastic looking’ and ‘painfully thin’, but this did not seem to worry Kate Middleton, as she attended an official charity event at engagement Hope House in Clapham, a residential centre for recovering drug addicts.

Mantel, 60, described Kate as a personality-free ‘shop window mannequin’ with a ‘plastic smile’, and compared Kate unfavourably to both Anne Boleyn – one of her historical heroines – and to Princess Diana, insisting both had more personality. She said that Kate had gone from being a ‘jointed doll on which certain rags are hung’ to a woman whose ‘only point and purpose’ was to give birth, further adding that she ‘appeared to have been designed by a committee and built by craftsmen, with a perfect plastic smile and the spindles of her limbs hand-turned and gloss-varnished’.

The criticism of Kate has made thousands of people come out in defence of the Duchess, with even the Prime Minister, David Cameron, currently on a trip to India, reportedly speaking out to support the pregnant Duchess. He said that Hilary Martel is ‘a great writer’ but described her comments on Kate as ‘a hurtful thing to say’, according to reports. He described the comments about the Duchess of Cambridge as ‘completely misguided and completely wrong’.

The Prime Minister told the BBC: ‘What I’ve seen of Princess Kate at public events, at the Olympics and elsewhere is this is someone who’s bright, who’s engaging, who’s a fantastic ambassador for Britain. We should be proud of that, rather than make these rather misguided remarks.’

The head of a charity supported by the Duchess of Cambridge 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.

The Duchess had just returned from a relaxing holiday in Mustique, one of Princess Margaret’s favourite haunts, and sporting a healthy light tan, she looked keen to get on with her day job. Wearing a flattering £298 grey wrap dress from Max Mara’s 2011 collection, which the Duchess teamed with a pendant necklace costing £2,800 from Asprey, Kate looked every bit the healthy mother-to-be, as she greeted residents of the home.

The Duchess of Cambridge complimented the MaxMara dress with a pair of her now traditional £60 House of Fraser court shoes, and despite the definite chill in the air, she opted to go without a coat. She finished the look with a ‘modesty panel’, that covered up her cleavage.

The engagement at Hope House follows a testing month for both the Duke and the Duchess, who are said to be ‘bruised’ by recent photographs taken of the Duchess, whilst she was sunbathing in a bikini. The pictures were not published here in the UK, as the press have a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ with the pair, but Australian newspapers decided to go ahead and print the photos, as they said the pictures were flattering of the Duchess.

Kate seems to have put all this behind her, as she chatted to staff at Hope House, which is a 23-bed residential treatment centre in Clapham for recovering addicts.

Picture: Reuters

Picture: Reuters

At four and a half months pregnant, unless you knew that Kate was pregnant, you certainly would not be able to tell, as she is still remarkably slender.

And it seems that pregnancy has not dented the Duchess’ sense of style, as a wrap dress, made popular in the last decade by designer Diane von Furstenberg design, is a gerat choice for flattering your baby bump.

It is not known whether the Duchess is still suffering from the severe form of morning sickness, which saw her being hospitalised in the early weeks of her pregnancy, if she is, this could account for her still tiny frame.

The Duchess also showed her new hairstyle, which shows that she is gradually growing out her newly cut in fringe, for a more relaxed style.

Kate spent the morning meeting clients and staff at Hope House, a 23-bed residential treatment centre in South West London that offers an Action on Addiction programme, providing a safe, comfortable place for women to recover from substance dependence and receive support for other compulsive disorders.