Kate Middleton, Princess of Wales: News outlets recall photo citing tampering concerns


Several major news agencies have withdrawn a photo distributed by Kensington Palace, showing Catherine, Princess of Wales, and her children, saying they believe the photo has been doctored.

The picture is The first official photo of the princess Since undergoing abdominal surgery in January, it comes after weeks of intense public speculation and growing conspiracy theories on social media about her whereabouts and health.

The photo was published on Sunday with a message from the princess thanking the public for its support during the celebration of Mother's Day in the United Kingdom. CNN has reached out to Kensington Palace for comment.

CNN's initial review of the image identified at least two areas that appeared to show some evidence of possible tampering, including Princess Charlotte's sleeves, and a zipper on the left side of the Princess of Wales' jacket.

CNN continues to use the original image, with appropriate captions, in the context of the controversy surrounding its alleged manipulation.

Kensington Palace in London

This undated photo released by Kensington Palace on March 10, 2024, shows Catherine, Princess of Wales, with her children. The circled areas appear to show evidence of potential manipulation.

Kensington Palace in London

This area on Princess Charlotte's sleeve appears to show evidence of possible tampering.

Three major international news agencies said they had found evidence of tampering.

The Associated Press noted that “upon closer examination it appears that the source may have manipulated the image.”

Agence France-Presse said it had withdrawn the image due to an “editorial issue.”

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“This published photo… issued by Kensington Palace today of the Princess of Wales and her children has been found to have been altered and has therefore been withdrawn from AFP’s systems,” the agency wrote in a note to clients.

Both Reuters and the Associated Press also pointed to Kate's daughter Charlotte's sleeve as an area that showed evidence of being manipulated or altered.

Reuters said the sleeve did not line up correctly, suggesting the image had been altered. She said the agency could not immediately determine how or why the change was made or who made it.

The AP also noted “inconsistencies in the alignment” of the daughter's hand, saying the photo had been doctored “in a way that does not meet AP photo standards.”

Most photo agencies and news organizations have strict rules against publishing excessively edited or manipulated photos. Reuters, for example, says it only allows Photoshop to be used in “very limited” ways such as cropping, resizing, or color balancing images.

Removing elements from or adding to an image is strictly prohibited as it undermines confidence in both the image and the credibility of the news organization even if it is not the source of the changes.

News agencies are also often used Specialized software To verify the images for evidence of tampering. Rapid advances in generative AI in recent years have made it increasingly easy for bad actors to produce convincing fake images and videos. Create further verification Difficulties facing media institutions.

The removal of the photos by major news agencies has created a new PR headache for Britain's royal family at a time when they are trying to quell some of the wilder speculation that has exploded online in the wake of Kate's surgery.

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Kensington Palace announced last January that the 42-year-old princess He is unlikely to return to public duties until Easter At the end of March. The palace did not reveal the purpose of her surgery, but said it was not cancerous.

Her long disappearance from the public eye sparked angry online rumors and international media coverage. Some of this faded somewhat after a photo surfaced in early March of Kate in a car being driven by her mother. She is seen wearing dark sunglasses and sitting in the front passenger seat.

But speculation has continued largely online, especially on social media, fueled by other incidents within the royal family — such as Prince William pulling out of an important family gathering earlier this month without a public explanation.

The palace has faced increasing pressure to share more information about the future queen, without compromising her medical privacy.

In February, the palace took a rare step to respond to the rumours, saying that it had “clarified in January the timelines for the princess's recovery and we will only provide important updates.” This guidance stands.”

This was a breaking news story and has been updated.

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