Alleged Photoshop fail propels royal conspiracy theories to new heights

King releases video message

Source: X/Royal Family

When it decided to post a happy snap of the Princess of Wales and her kids on Sunday, Kensington Palace probably hoped to douse wild conspiracy theories about her whereabouts.

Instead, the move only fanned the flames.

And the response on Monday night – in which Kate took the blame for editing the photo and apologised on social media for any confusion it may have caused – has only raised more questions.

Some basic information about the image remains unknown – such as when exactly it was taken, what was changed or whether it was a composite of a number of pictures, BBC reported.

Purportedly taken by Kate’s husband Prince William this year and released to celebrate Mother’s Day in the UK, the picture shows the smiling princess surrounded by her young children George, Charlotte and Louis.

The caption, which thanked royal followers for their “kind wishes and continued support over the last two months”, referenced Kate’s time out of the spotlight since undergoing abdominal surgery in January.

Eagle-eyed royal watchers quickly picked up discrepancies in the image.

These included the absence of Kate’s wedding and engagement rings, as well as apparent glitches in Princess Charlotte’s sleeve and Prince Louis’ fingers.

Social media users accused the palace of creating an AI-generated image, or creating the image in photo-editing software.

These claims were lended further credibility when major photo agencies such as AP and Reuters issued ‘kill notices’ based on their belief the image had been manipulated by the source – Kensington Palace.

Dee Madigan, creative director at advertising agency Campaign Edge, told The New Daily the palace had become very open about the private lives of the royal family in recent years.

But that appears to have backfired when the palace tried to return to its old ‘no comment’ policy regarding the princess’s medical details.

With social media playing a large part in the royal family’s relationship with the public, the alleged errors in the recently released picture represents a huge failure.

“Presumably they would have had experts at this, so how they got so much of the Photoshopping wrong is bizarre,” Madigan said.

“I’m not a conspiracy theorist, [but] I’m thinking, ‘What the hell is going on?’

“I’m surprised that they haven’t released a statement [saying] that this is all rubbish … the palace have handled it badly.”

This is not the first time the royal family has been caught with a bad alleged Photoshop job.

A wholesome 2023 Christmas picture of the Prince and Princess of Wales with their children made headlines when people noticed young Prince Louis appeared to be missing a finger.

Notice anything odd about Prince Louis (front left)? Photo: AAP

But with William pulling out of an official engagement due to a “personal matter” in February, and a grainy paparazzi image supposedly of Kate (unconfirmed by the palace, and debated online due to her different appearance), it’s not surprising the new picture has turned into a bigger issue.

“It all started because the palace didn’t say what operation Kate was having, which they’ve got every right not to,” Madigan said.

“What happens if you don’t fill in the space? People fill it in for you.

“I hate the term ‘controlling the narrative’ but if you don’t, someone else does, and that’s essentially what’s happened.”

The storm over the photo overshadowed the appearance of senior royals at Westminster Abbey on Monday to mark Commonwealth Day. With the King still absent due to his cancer treatment, they were led by the Queen and the Prince of Wales.

Kate is not expected to return to royal duties until after Easter, although Kensington Palace has said she was making “good progress” in her recovery following the surgery for a non-specified, but reportedly non-cancerous, condition at London Clinic.

A statement from Kensington Palace after her surgery stated her “wish that her personal medical information remains private”, with the palace to only provide updates on her progress when there was “significant new information to share”.

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