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Photoshopped royal photo causes a stir

[UPDATE: In a message posted on social media on Monday morning, Princess Kate said that she herself edited the image, and apologized for the fuss that the picture had caused. “Like many amateur photographers, I do occasionally experiment with editing,” she wrote, adding, “I wanted to express my apologies for any confusion the family photograph we shared yesterday caused.”]

Major press agencies have pulled a photo of the U.K.’s Princess of Wales and her children amid concerns that it has been digitally manipulated.

The apparently Photoshopped image of Princess Kate and her children.
Kensington Palace

The image, shared on the Prince and Princess of Wales’ Instagram account on Mother’s Day (yes, moms in the U.K. are celebrated two months earlier than in the U.S.), faced more scrutiny than usual as it’s the first to show Princess Kate since she disappeared from public view after undergoing abdominal surgery in January.

Soon after the photo was shared and added to the picture libraries of prominent press agencies such as Reuters, the Associated Press (AP), Getty Images, and Agence France-Presse (AFP), the same agencies told media outlets to erase the image from their systems and archives.

Looking at the image in more detail, it’s hard to argue with the agencies’ claims that it has been subjected to some Photoshopping — and pretty poor Photoshopping at that. The end of Princess Charlotte’s left sleeve, for example, seems to have been edited, along with part of her skirt. A third close-up suggests that her hair has been Photoshopped, too. Other discrepancies have also been pointed out.

The AP agency told Sky News that it had initially published the photo as it had been issued by Kensington Palace, which represents the Princess and Princess of Wales, but said it later removed it from circulation because on “closer inspection, it appears that the source had manipulated the image in a way that did not meet AP’s photo standards.”

Reuters said it had decided to remove the picture following a “post-publication review,” and the AFP said it had “come to light” that the image of the “Princess of Wales and her kids had been altered,” so it had decided to take it off its database of images, according to Sky News.

While the edits may seem minor at first sight, news agencies with reputations to protect rarely circulate images that have been heavily — or, in this case, shoddily — altered.

Kensington Palace said in January that Kate was doing well following the surgical procedure, but it has said little since. The silence regarding her condition has sent the rumor mill spinning, and so putting out an apparently manipulated image is likely to add to speculation and even dent people’s trust in the royals’ press releases.

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