Kate Middleton’s ‘manipulated’ photo response: ‘I do occasionally experiment’

Princess Kate issued an apology on social media on Monday for “any confusion” caused by an edited photograph which had been issued by Kensington Palace the previous day.
News agencies including Getty, Reuters, the Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and the Press Association withdrew the picture of Kate, 42, posing with her three children after post-publication analysis showed it did not meet their editorial standards.

“Like many amateur photographers, I do occasionally experiment with editing,” the message on X said. It was signed with a “C”, meaning it was sent by Kate. “I wanted to express my apologies for any confusion the family photograph we shared yesterday caused.”

Reuters picture editors said part of the sleeve of Kate’s daughter’s cardigan was not lined up properly, suggesting that the image had been altered.
“It has come to light that this handout photo … has been altered and therefore it was withdrawn from AFP systems,” Agence France-Presse said in a note to clients.

The AP said it had retracted the image because on “closer inspection, it appeared the source had manipulated the image in a way that did not meet AP’s photo standards”.

Princess Kate walking with her husband and children with a crowd of onlookers.

Princess Kate was last seen at a Christmas church service before it was announced she had undergone surgery. Source: Getty / Samir Hussein

Broadcasters with access to the original image said an examination of its metadata showed it had been saved in photo editing software Adobe Photoshop twice on an Apple Mac.

Kate and her husband Prince William, who is heir to the British throne, were pictured together on Monday leaving Windsor by car for London. The prince joined other senior royals for a service to mark Commonwealth Day at Westminster Abbey. Kate traveled to a private appointment as planned, a royal source said, and did not attend the abbey service.
Kate has been mainly at their home in Windsor, west of London, since leaving hospital on 29 January.

Five signs pulled Kate Middleton photo was ‘manipulated’

Senior lecturer in digital media at RMIT, TJ Thomson, who has worked as a photojournalist in the past, said to those with an understanding of photo editing, it was obvious some edits had been made to the image.
“Nothing jumps out initially at a quick glance but when you start to pause and zoom in, things start to unravel,” he told SBS News.

Thomson pointed out five parts of the photo which he claimed were edited.

Princess Catherine surrounded by her three children, with five parts of the photo highlighted.

There are five areas the image was altered, according to digital media lecturer TJ Thomson. Source: Supplied

The most obvious he said was an “anomaly” on the cuff part of Princess Charlotte’s left sleeve, “where part of the sleeve just disappears into the ether”, he said.

He also identified a “mismatch” on the steps behind Prince Louis’ right knee and a duplicate pattern on the right shoulder of his sweater as well as alterations to Princess Kate’s hair and fingers.

What is the problem with ‘Photoshopping’?

Thomson said society as a whole was seeing more of these kinds of edits in people’s personal photos.
“Even without necessarily asking for it, some smartphone cameras or smartphone camera apps are doing little touch-up things of people’s faces, they are smoothing skin, brightening teeth, that kind of stuff, so I think you’re seeing a lot of subtle , in-the-background edits going on,” he said.
However, Thomson said news outlets should not accept such alterations in the images they distribute.

“We have a lot of faith and trust in our news organizations and politicians, we’re dependent on them to live our lives and make decisions about our lives so if they are misleading or deceiving us, that’s a really big issue,” he said .

Thomson said that is why news agencies generally have restrictions around the edits on images they will accept and why the wire services took the unprecedented step of issuing a kill notice on the photo provided by the Royal Family.
“Associated Press has a very clear policy on image manipulation or image editing. For AP, you can only do very minimal edits, they say things like cropping is okay, as long as doesn’t mislead the audience, color correction is alright, removing dust spots, but that’s about it.”

Concerning the image of the Princess specifically, he said given: “There has been a lot of speculation about, her health and they’re trying to put this photo out there to allay some of those fears, but it’s kind of doing the opposite of that , and it’s inflaming fears and speculation.”

The royals and their right to privacy

Cindy McCreery, associate professor of history at the University of Sydney, said the royal family was in a “difficult position” due to what she described as “conspiracy theories” circulating about the Princess.
She said members of the public were jumping to “absurd” conclusions based on the fact she had never been spotted in public.
“If they say nothing and are consistent on the right to privacy, people will just worry and wonder, and if they try and release information that may actually backfire and actually, then sort of encourage further questions and I think that’s actually what’s happened with this photograph,” McCreery said.
She said this was “just the latest episode in a much longer and complex relationship of the royal family with the media following the News of the World hacking scandal, Princess Diana’s death and stepping down from the royal family and taking legal action against news outlets.
Photos published by gossip news outlet TMZ earlier in March showed Kate wearing sunglasses while being driven in a car, but many British media outlets chose not to publish the pictures.

With additional reporting by Agence France-Presse.