Kate royal photo: Princess of Wales apologises for family photograph confusion as she admits to 'editing'

Kensington Palace has been under pressure to answer questions about whether the first picture of the Princess of Wales to be released after her surgery has been digitally altered.

The Princess of Wales has publicly taken the blame for the manipulated family photograph released by Kensington Palace as she issued a personal apology for the “confusion”.

Kate said sorry with a statement on social media that read: “Like many amateur photographers, I do occasionally experiment with editing. I wanted to express my apologies for any confusion the family photograph we shared yesterday caused.

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“I hope everyone celebrating had a very happy Mother’s Day. C.”

The image of Kate and her children, said by the palace to have been taken by the Prince of Wales, was posted on social media. Picture: PAThe image of Kate and her children, said by the palace to have been taken by the Prince of Wales, was posted on social media. Picture: PA
The image of Kate and her children, said by the palace to have been taken by the Prince of Wales, was posted on social media. Picture: PA

The photograph of Kate and her children, taken by the Prince of Wales, was the first to be issued since the princess’s abdominal surgery and was released by the Palace to mark Mother’s Day.

But it was withdrawn with a “Kill” notice by international picture agencies hours later, and the UK’s PA news agency on Monday, because of suspicions it had been manipulated.

Royal sources said the Princess of Wales made “minor adjustments” and that Kate and the Prince of Wales wanted to offer an informal picture of the family together for Mother’s Day.

“This was an amateur, family photograph taken by the Prince of Wales,” the source said. “Their Royal Highnesses wanted to offer an informal picture of the family together for Mother’s Day.

“The Princess made minor adjustments as she shared in her statement on social media. The Wales family spent Mother’s Day together and had a wonderful day.”

Kate was later spotted leaving Windsor in a car with William as he was driven to the Commonwealth Day service in London on Monday. The princess was not attending the service, but was understood to have a private appointment.

The Prince of Wales was all smiles as he appeared alongside Queen Camilla at the service, in making his first public appearance in the wake of the controversy.

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But King Charles, who continues to receive treatment for cancer, was another notable figure missing. In a video address to the family of nations, the monarch pledged to continue to serve the Commonwealth “to the best of my ability”.

Despite calls for the original Mother’s Day image to be published, Kensington Palace said it would not be reissuing the unedited photograph of Kate and her children. The palace faced growing pressure over the debacle with the controversy branded damaging to the public’s trust of the royal family.

Concerns were raised over a missing part of Princess Charlotte’s sleeve and the misaligned edge of her skirt, with other speculation including the positioning of Kate’s zip.

The picture was released to reassure the public amid escalating conspiracy theories online over the state of Kate’s health in recent weeks, but in an extraordinary turn of events sparked what is being dubbed “Kategate” and even “Sleevegate”.

William and Kate have an established track record of issuing their own photographs, often taken by Kate rather than William, to mark special occasions including their children’s birthdays. But the princess’s confession raises questions over whether – or to what extent – the images have been altered in the past.

Public relations and crisis consultant Mark Borkowski called the fiasco a “massive own goal” and said the unedited photograph should be released to regain trust.

He said: “It’s plausible she’s at home playing with the computer and using an AI tool, but if they’re really going to regain any sort of trust they should release the unedited photo, it can’t be that bad if they just made a few tweaks.

“I find they have risen to the challenge, provided the statement as an explanation – the question is with all the conspiracy theories running around, is whether people believe it and I’m not sure that they will.”

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Mr Borkowski said the Mother’s Day photo had exposed a public relations problem for the monarchy. He said: “That’s the issue, there doesn’t seem to be that much joined up strategic thinking at the heart of the royal family at the moment, which leads to these problems where it’s a very difficult organisation to manage in terms of PR.”

He added: “It’s a nightmare. Even the softer stories of Edward turning 60 this week haven’t really resonated at all because no one’s interested in them. They’re interested in the stars, they’re not interested in the supporting cast and that is a problem at the moment.

“They are under pressure, massively under pressure. This is a massive own goal.”

The controversy is set to overshadow the Commonwealth Day service, one of the key royal events of the year.

Heir to the throne William and the Queen will gather with the royal family in Westminster Abbey on Monday in the absence of the King, who is continuing treatment for cancer during what has been a challenging start to 2024 for the Windsors.

Graham Smith of the anti-monarchy group Republic said: “Kate’s statement answers no questions. We can all see the photo has been edited.

“The question is why? Why haven’t they released the original photo? A statement parsed via the press office which says nothing and explains nothing shows a general disregard for the public.”

Earlier, Kate’s uncle Gary Goldsmith defended the Waleses and claimed they would not have been responsible for altering the image.

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The Celebrity Big Brother evictee said: “Obviously the family wouldn’t be the ones to do any touch-ups, so if that’s gone through some filter before it’s gone out to the broader world, but they wouldn’t be doing photoshopping themselves.”

He told Good Morning Britain: “The smiles on faces said it all for me, I thought it was beautiful.” r Goldsmith added: “And this whole ‘sleevegate’ thing, just leave it alone.”

Sky News said an examination of the photo’s meta data revealed it was saved in Adobe Photoshop twice on an Apple Mac on Friday and Saturday and the picture was taken on a Canon Camera.

Under the licensing agreement issued to photo agencies for use of official royal photos, royal households usually stipulate: “This image must not be digitally enhanced, cropped, manipulated or modified in any manner or form.”

Royal author Omid Scobie, seen as a cheerleader for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, accused the palace of having a “long history of lying”, and said gaining back public trust was now “an almost impossible task”.

Scobie wrote on X that if it was an isolated incident, it was an “unfortunate error”.

He said: “But with the palace’s long history of lying, covering up, and even issuing statements on behalf of family members without their permission (cc: Prince Harry), it’s becoming increasingly difficult for the public to believe a word (and now photo) they share.

“Gaining that back at this point is an almost impossible task.”

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The princess is known to be a keen photographer. She revealed in 2021 that she takes so many family photographs that her children sometimes object.

“Everyone’s like ‘mummy, please stop taking photographs’,” she said.

Kate underwent surgery at the London Clinic on January 16, but details of her condition have been kept private, and she is not expected to return to official duties until after Easter.



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