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‘Kill notification’ amid concerns over new Kate photo

The first official photo of the Princess of Wales since her surgery has sparked a fresh wave of controversy.

The first official photo of the Princess of Wales since her surgery has sparked a fresh wave of controversy. Photo: Kensington Palace

International media agencies are pulling the first official photo of the Princess of Wales since her surgery, amid concerns the image has been doctored.

In what is rapidly building as a major royal scandal, the photo agencies took the extraordinary move to issue kill orders just hours after Kensington Palace released the picture.

The photo was published on the Prince and Princess of Wales’ social media on Sunday, to mark Mothers’ Day in Britain. Taken by Kate’s husband, Prince William, it shows a smiling princess, 42, with children Princes George and Louis and Princess Charlotte.

“Thank you for your kind wishes and continued support over the last two months,” she said in the post.

“Wishing everyone a Happy Mother’s Day. C.”

But if the picture was intended to quell conspiracy theories that have run rampant since Kate’s mystery surgery in January, it does not appear to have worked.

Eagle-eyed royal-watchers quickly picked up what they said were errors or editing fails. They included the absence of Kate’s wedding and engagement rings, as well as apparent glitches in Princess Charlotte’s arm and Prince Louis’s fingers.

By Monday (Australian time), major international photo agencies such as Reuters and AFP had issued kill orders, saying they believed the image had been “manipulated at source” – by Kensington Palace.

The palace is yet to make any public comment.

But its strategy of finally releasing a picture of the recuperating Kate, who has not been seen in public since the royals went to church at Sandringham on Christmas Day, appears to have backfired in epic style.

Conspiracy theories have ranged across the internet since Kate’s unplanned abdominal surgery was revealed. She spent two weeks in the London Clinic after her operation on January 16, before returning to the family’s home on the Windsor Castle estate to recuperate.

Details of the princess’s condition have not been revealed but Kensington Palace previously said it was not cancer-related and that Kate wanted her personal medical information to remain private.

It said there would be updates only when there was something major to report, and that Kate would return to royal duties after Easter.

“We were very clear from the outset that the Princess of Wales was out until after Easter and Kensington Palace would only be providing updates when something was significant,” a Wales spokesperson said in late February.

kate wales photo

The front page of Britain’s Telegraph newspaper on Monday. Image: X

Last week, paparazzi snaps emerged apparently showing Kate in the passenger seat of a vehicle driven by her mother, Carole Middleton near the Wales’ Windsor home.

Kensington Palace made no comment on the unofficial photos. They were distributed widely in the US, but have not been published in Britain.

Late last month, William, 41, sparked further rumours when he withdrew from a memorial service at Windsor Castle for his godfather, the late King Constantine of Greece. The Prince of Wales, who had been due to give a reading at the service, pulled out with just an hour’s notice, citing a “personal matter”.

In a later update in response to renewed speculation, a Windsor Castle aide said “the Princess of Wales continues to be doing well”.

William did temporarily step back from royal duties to juggle caring for his wife and children during Kate’s initial recuperation. He has since returned to public engagements.

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