Kate Photo: Princess of Wales seen after saying Mother's Day picture edited

  • By Emma Harrison & Sean Coughlan
  • BBC News

image source, Calvin Bruce/Jim Bennett

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On Monday afternoon, the Princess of Wales was seen in public with William as the pair left Windsor by car.

The Princess of Wales has apologized for „any confusion” after she claimed a Mother's Day photo of her and her children had been edited.

Her statement was posted on Kensington Palace social media, and five agents retracted it due to editing concerns.

„Like many amateur photographers, I occasionally experiment with editing,” said Catherine.

The picture, taken by the Prince of Wales, is the first to be released since Catherine's surgery in January.

PA, Getty Images, AFP, Associated Press (AP) and Reuters have removed the image. The AP noted „a paradox in aligning Princess Charlotte's left arm.”

The Princess of Wales was seen leaving Windsor in a car on Monday with Prince William, who did not attend the Commonwealth Day service.

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WATCH: BBC Verify examines Royal Mother's Day image

On X, earlier on Twitter, Catherine said: „I wanted to apologize for the confusion caused by the family photo we shared yesterday. I hope everyone celebrating has a very happy Mother's Day. C.”

The apology, which was posted on social media, came from the official account of the Prince and Princess of Wales, but it bears the personal sign of „C” for Catherine.

She takes more responsibility for the changes to the photo than her husband, Prince William, who took the photo, or the wider team surrounding the royal couple.

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A closer look at the image reveals: (1) part of Princess Charlotte's sleeve is missing, (2) Catherine's arm is blurry compared to Louis's jumper, (3) a wrong zip, (4) a wrong texture in the background, and (5) a blur on Princess Charlotte's knee.

According to royal sources, there were „minor changes” made by the Princess of Wales to the image released online by Kensington Palace.

Kensington Palace said it would not re-release the original unedited photo of Catherine and her children.

We know the photo has been edited, but some basic information about the image is unknown – like when exactly it was taken, what was changed, or whether it was a composite of multiple images.

The photo shows the princess sitting surrounded by Princess Charlotte, Prince Louis and Prince George.

This is the first official photo of the Princess of Wales since undergoing stomach surgery two months ago. Since then, he has stayed out of the public eye.

The picture was posted with a message from Catherine: „Thank you for your kind wishes and continued support over the past two months.

„Happy Mother's Day everyone.”

Government sources say the photo was taken only as an „amateur, family photo” released in the run-up to Mother's Day.

The implication is that this was not a piece of professional manipulation, but rather some finesse to the film capturing a family moment.

It's not just a personal film, but it's going to be shared with the world, in the context of what will inevitably be seen as an attempt to stop speculation and conspiracy theories about Catherine as she recovers from surgery.

'raises more questions'

Instead of answering such rumours, it inadvertently ended up raising more questions.

The photo can also lead to debates about how the media should use images or social media clips produced without any independent journalists involved.

While most public royal events are attended by professional photographers and press representatives, this one was seen as a private moment, captured by the family as the princess recovers.

An earlier photo of the princess after her performance was a paparazzi shot that was not used by UK news outlets due to concerns about privacy breaches.

There have been previous examples of Kensington Palace releasing video footage without any outside journalists, including when the Princess of Wales visited a „baby bank” that helps disadvantaged families.

The Mother's Day image was featured on the front pages of many national newspapers and websites, including BBC News, and was used in TV news bulletins – again including the BBC.

To use the new photo as soon as possible, the BBC took the photo used by Kensington Palace on its social media accounts.

image source, Prince of Wales/Kensington Palace

Five photo agencies withdrew the image over concerns that it had been „manipulated”. The Associated Press issued a „kill notice” — an industry term used for retraction — late Sunday, saying: „On investigation, the source appears to have tampered with the image. No replacement photo will be sent.”

Reuters said it had also withdrawn the film „following a post-release review” and AFP also issued a „mandatory kill notice”.

Getty Images became the fourth organization to return the photo. PA said on Monday it had also withdrawn the image, citing the lack of an explanation from Kensington Palace.

Most news organizations follow their own strict guidelines on the use of manipulated photos, only using them with an explanation that the image has been altered from the original.

News organizations like the AP assure their clients that their photos are accurate and not digitally manipulated.

AP's rules allow only „minor adjustments” in certain situations, including cropping and toning and color adjustments, as well as removing dust from camera sensors. Changes in density, contrast, color and saturation levels that „significantly alter the original scene” are not acceptable, it says.

The Princess of Wales was seen in public with William on Monday as the pair left Windsor by car.

The Prince of Wales will be escorted to the Commonwealth Day service at London's Westminster Abbey, Kensington Palace said.

Catherine did not attend the service, but is understood to have had a private appointment.

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Queen Camilla and the Prince of Wales led the Royals in the Commonwealth Day service

William appeared with Queen Camilla at the event to celebrate the Commonwealth Day.

Some 56 countries make up the Commonwealth of Nations – which this year marks its 75th anniversary – most of which are territories of the former British Empire. In 14 of these countries, including England, the monarch is the head of state.

On Monday evening, Prince William spoke at his Earthshot Prize Awards in central London.

He asked investors and philanthropists to „join us in our mission” to help eco-innovators scale their projects through the new online platform Launchpad.

William said „ideas and ambitions are already there to set our planet on a healthy path”.

„But it's urgent,” he added. „We are now in an important decade.”

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The EarthShot Prize aims to raise £400 million for new projects.

Catherine, 42, spent 13 nights at the London Clinic near Regent's Park in central London after the operation.

Prince William visited his wife during her stay and even met her before he received his own treatment there.

The palace has shared few details about his condition, which has received significant social media speculation, but has said it is not related to cancer.

The group that supports the princess as she recovers is small and limited to those close to her.

During her stay, the palace said the princess wanted her personal medical information to remain private and wanted to „maintain as much normalcy as possible for her children”.

The palace said it would only provide updates on her recovery when significant new information was shared.

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