Kate Middleton has confessed that she is nervous about giving birth as the British Prime Minister David Cameron defended her against a scathing attack from novelist Hilary Mantel.
Kate, who is more than four months pregnant, showed off her baby bump for the first time at a public event.
Her concerns about the birth – the due date is July – came as she chatted to a group of women recovering from drink and drug addictions at a treatment centre in London run by the charity Action On Addiction of which she is patron.
But the visit was overshadowed by the furore caused by Mantel's comments, who suggested the duchess is a "shop-window mannequin" with no personality "whose only purpose is to breed".
During a lecture at the British Museum, the double Booker Prize-winner said Kate appeared to have been "gloss-varnished" with a perfect plastic smile.
The writer also seemed to suggest the "painfully thin" royal was selected for her role because she posed no risk of showing any character.
Mr Cameron, who is in New Delhi, defended the duchess. He said of Mantel: "I think she writes great books, but I think what she's said about Kate Middleton is completely misguided and completely wrong."
He 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."
During Kate's visit to Hope House, an all-female treatment centre in Clapham, south London, she met Lisa, a mother of three who did not want to give her full name.
"I asked her if she was nervous (about the birth)," Lisa told reporters. "She said it would be unnatural if she wasn't – she's human like us."
The duchess wore a MaxMara dress for the visit and looked relaxed and tanned after her recent Caribbean holiday.