cosh of criticism following her outburst suggesting that the Duchess of Cambridge is pregnant – and that is good news for the British economy.
As exclusively reported by Marlborough News Online yesterday, Mrs Perry made the comment out of the blue during a Question Time Debate held as part of the Summer School events at Marlborough College.
And it was at the College that the Duchess, the former Kate Middleton, was a student before she went off to university and met Prince William, with whom she is due to tour the South Pacific in September as part of the Queen’s diamond jubilee celebrations.
“I think it’s totally inappropriate,” said Sue Buxton, secretary of Devizes Labour Party. “It’s a total invasion of their privacy.”
Ingrid Seward, editor of Monarchy magazine, protested: “It’s very unhelpful for her to say that. She could have no insider knowledge.”
“It will be the best kept secret of all time. There is no way they would want people to know before it was appropriate.”
And royal historian Hugo Vickers accused Mrs Perry, the mother of three children, of “trying to make a bit of a name for herself” by making controversial comments.
“Unless she has visited the same gynaecologist, it strikes me as extremely unlikely she might know. It’s quite clearly none of her business to make remarks of that kind, and presumably it is not very helpful either.”
Labour front bench spokesman Chris Bryant, who was also on the Question Time team, said he did not wish to condemn Mrs Perry, but he admitted that other people had commented on them as being “a bit distasteful” and “a bit odd” at the end of the event.
The panel has been asked whether the Olympics would be good for the economy, and added: “I don’t know how it ended up with (the question) whether Kate Middleton was pregnant or not.”
Clarence House declined to comment and pointed out that it would “never comment on speculation like this.”
Marlborough News Online has asked Mrs Perry if she wishes to respond, but has so far received no response.
Former Fleet Street journalist Michael Kallenbach, who chaired the debate, told Marlborough News Online: "It was very lively with the politicians having a go at each other for most of the evening.”
“But then, when there was a question from the audience about the Olympics and its effect on the British economy, Claire came out with her prediction about the Duchess being pregnant.”
"I certainly don't know where she got that information and I didn't ask her either. I merely pointed out that the question asked was about the Olympics and not Kate's private life and I tried to steer the debate back on course again."
Kallenbach added: "It seems that everyone who attended the debate, the first in a series, found it stimulating and fun as well as informative."
The next debate at the Summer School is on Thursday, 9 August, and among the panellists will be Crispin Blunt, the Prisons Minister.