News Agencies Retract Photo of Kate Over Manipulation Concern

Four photo agencies have withdrawn a photo of the Princess of Wales amid concerns it has been “manipulated”. The image, taken by Prince William and issued by Kensington Palace for Mother’s Day, shows Catherine with her three children.

However, Associated Press was the first agency to retract the photograph, citing that it didn’t adhere to their photo standards due to an “inconsistency in the alignment of Princess Charlotte’s left hand.”

The photograph features the princess seated with Princess Charlotte, Prince Louis, and Prince George, with George embracing her.

This was the princess’s first public photograph following her stomach surgery two months earlier, after which she had been absent from public appearances.

The photograph was shared on the social media platforms of the Prince and Princess of Wales, with Catherine expressing gratitude: “Thank you for your kind wishes and continued support over the last two months. Wishing everyone a Happy Mother’s Day.”

The tradition of the royal couple releasing personal photographs on significant occasions has become well-established, often with Catherine as the photographer.

The Mother’s Day photograph was prominently featured across various national newspapers and websites, including BBC News, and was broadcast in TV news segments.

However, by Sunday evening, the Associated Press, among several other international agencies that had distributed the photo, announced its withdrawal, citing manipulation upon closer inspection and stated no replacement would be issued.

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

Following this, Reuters also withdrew the photograph after a post-publication review. AFP and Getty Images subsequently retracted the photo as well.

Despite the retractions, PA Media, the UK’s largest news agency and a regular channel for official royal communications, did not withdraw the photo but is seeking immediate clarification from Kensington Palace regarding the manipulation concerns.

News organizations typically adhere to stringent policies against using altered photographs unless clearly stated as modified.

Agencies like AP commit to providing authentic, unaltered photos to their clients, allowing only minor adjustments under specific conditions, such as removing sensor dust.

Catherine, aged 42, was hospitalized for 13 nights at the London Clinic near Regent’s Park in central London for the surgery, during which she was visited by Prince William and the King.

The palace has been reserved about her health condition, which has led to widespread speculation online, but confirmed it is not related to cancer.

During her hospital stay, the Palace stated that the princess preferred to keep her health details confidential, emphasizing her desire to preserve a sense of normalcy for her children.

Updates on her recovery will be shared by the Palace only when there is substantial new information.

Initial hopes were that the Mother’s Day photo would dispel rumours about the princess’s health, yet social media soon buzzed with detailed analyses of Princess Charlotte’s cuff and Prince Louis’ fingers.