'Altered' image

Kate apologises after agencies withdraw photograph

The image of the Princess of Wales and her children was widely used by the media

The Princess of Wales has apologised “for any confusion” over her Mother’s Day photograph after five picture agencies retracted it over concerns it had been manipulated.

In a Kensington Palace social media post, she said: “Like many amateur photographers, I do occasionally experiment with editing.”

However, PA became the fifth international photo agency to withdraw the photo showing the Princess of Wales and her children.

The image, taken by Prince William at Windsor Castle this week, was released by Kensington Palace to mark Mother’s Day and in an attempt to quell speculation about the princess’s health.

The photo shows Catherine with Princess Charlotte, Prince Louis and Prince George and was the first first official image of the Princess of Wales since her abdominal surgery two months ago. Since then she has stayed out of the public eye while she recovers.

It was posted on the family’s social media accounts with a message from Catherine which said: “Thank you for your kind wishes and continued support over the last two months. Wishing everyone a Happy Mother’s Day.”

But, Getty Images, AFP, Reuters, Associated Press and PA pulled the photo – noting an “inconsistency in alignment of Princess Charlotte’s left hand”. Royal fans claimed that the sleeve of Princess Charlotte’s cardigan did not line up.

Questions were raised about Charlotte’s left hand

There was also speculation around Louis’s fingers and why the Princess was not wearing her wedding ring.

Kensington Palace declined to comment.

The photo has been widely used today by the media, but late last night the Associated Press, one of the agencies that distributed the photo, issued a “kill notification” – an industry term used to make a retraction.

It said: “At closer inspection it appears that the source has manipulated the image. No replacement photo will be sent.”

A second news agency, Reuters, said it too had withdrawn the image “following a post-publication review”. AFP also issued a “mandatory kill notice” and Getty Images became the fourth organisation to retract the photograph. Today, PA Media, the UK’s biggest news agency, also removed it.

Most news organisations have strict rules over manipulated photographs and will only accept minor alterations such as the removal of hair and dust interference and colour correction.

Social media platform X, often accused of carrying uncorrected content, has posted a disclaimer on the Prince and Princess of Wales’s official account saying the image is “believed to be digitally altered”.

Catherine, 42, spent 13 nights at the London Clinic, near Regent’s Park in central London, following the surgery.

The Palace has shared few details about her condition, which has garnered significant social media speculation, but has said it is not cancer-related.

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