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Kate Middleton Says Sorry, Admits She Photoshopped the Viral Photo of Her and Her Kids

Kate Middleton, the Princess of Wales, wants everyone to chill out about the photo of her and her kids, which has caused an international firestorm after being pulled by some of the world’s biggest photo agencies for being “manipulated.” According to Middleton, that is correct. In fact, she Photoshopped it herself.

“Like many amateur photographers, I do occasionally experiment with editing,” Middleton said in a post on her and Prince William’s X, formerly Twitter, account on Monday morning. “I wanted to express my apologies for any confusion the family photograph we shared yesterday caused. I hope everyone celebrating had a very happy Mother’s Day. C.”

Middleton posted the photo, which shows her sitting down and smiling with her children George, Charlotte, and Louis, to social media on Sunday to commemorate the U.K.’s Mother Day holiday. Ironically, the photo appeared to be aimed at quelling the intense speculation around Middleton’s absence from the public eye for nearly two months after a planned abdominal surgery.

Her rare disappearance set off a swirl of rumors and conspiracy theories, with some stating that it was proof that she and Prince William were having problems in their marriage. Others speculated that she was suffering from a more serious health condition and could be in a coma.

“Thank you for your kind wishes and continued support over the last two months. Wishing everyone a Happy Mother’s Day,” the Sunday photo caption read, ending with “C” to indicate that it was posted by Middleton. The caption also added that it was taken by Prince William in 2024.

As of the time of publication of this article, the photo had been viewed more than 68 million times on X. It was also still available on Middleton and Prince William’s X account.

Middleton’s Mother’s Day Photo Fuels Conspiracies

However, instead of calming the public’s conspiracy theories, Middleton’s recent photo only fueled them. Online sleuths pointed out that Middleton was not wearing her wedding ring in the photo—Gizmodo also could not see a ring on Middleton’s left hand—and that her face appeared different from a paparazzi photo taken less than a week ago. (It’s not clear that it was Middleton in the photo.)

The firestorm only intensified when some of the world’s biggest photo agencies pulled the image from their wires and issued a “kill notice,” claiming the photo had been manipulated. The Associated Press and Getty confirmed to Gizmodo that they had pulled the photo, with the AP stating that Princess Charlotte’s hand been edited.

“The Associated Press initially published the photo, which was issued by Kensington Palace. The AP later retracted the image because at closer inspection, it appears that the source had manipulated the image in a way that did not meet AP’s photo standards,” AP spokesperson Nicole Meir said in an emailed statement. “The photo shows an inconsistency in the alignment of Princess Charlotte’s left hand.”

Reuters and Agence France-Presse also pulled it, according to The Telegraph. The photo agencies did not immediately return Gizmodo’s request for comment.

While I didn’t see what was up with Princess Charlotte’s hand at first, after a lot of concentration and zooming, you can clearly see that part of her left arm has been erased. Some users on X also noticed that Middleton’s hair was strangely blurred, which I can also see. They also pointed out that the Princess’ hand holding Prince George was also blurred (ditto, I see that too).

Gizmodo reached out to media representatives for the royal family on Monday morning but did not immediately hear back.

TLDR: Middleton Is Probably Just a Mom Who Edited a Pic She Didn’t Like

With key words like “royals,” “missing princess,” “kill notice,” and “manipulated photo,” it’s no wonder why this incident quickly snowballed into one of the biggest stories of the last few days. I get it. But I also have a lot of friends who are moms, and a lot of friends who are women, that edit their photos all the time—especially when their significant other is the one snapping the pic. If I had to bet, that’s what probably happened here. (Feel free to remind me if I turn out to be wrong so I can eat my computer.)

In today’s ruthless and fake photo landscape, it’s normal to see “flaws” where there may not be any and want to fix them. Maybe Princess Charlotte had a seam popping out of her sweater, or maybe Middleton had a gray hair that was visible. Technology makes it easier than ever to fix these details or erase them, but it also creates a vicious cycle where people are motivated to keep editing their photos in search of “perfection.”

Unfortunately, while Middleton is probably just a mom who didn’t like the photo her husband took or simply looked at it for way too long, when you’re one of the main members of the UK royal family, you’re not allowed to do normal things like editing your photos. Middleton has been in the royal family’s orbit for more than two decades, so I have no doubt she knows this. But alas, she’s a human who’s recently had abdominal surgery and is under a lot of public scrutiny. In this situation, anyone can make a mistake, even a person who’s known for being a pro at her job.

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