Princess of Wales apologizes for ‘confusion’ over altered Mother’s Day photo

LONDON — Catherine, the Princess of Wales, said she altered an official photo and expressed her “apologies for any confusion” that may have been caused after it was retracted by global news agencies over concerns it had been doctored.

“Like many amateur photographers, I do occasionally experiment with editing,” Catherine said in a post 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,” she wrote in a message posted on Kensington Palace’s social media account. It was signed, “C,” for Catherine.

The photo of Catherine, the Princess of Wales, was published on Sunday morning. She was sitting on a chair, surrounded by her three smiling children. It seemed like an attempt to reassure and quell the wild rumors and conspiracy theories that have surrounded the princess since she stepped back from public duties following abdominal surgery.

It did not have that effect.

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Global news agencies, including Reuters, Getty Images, Agence France-Presse and the Associated Press, on Sunday evening asked their clients to withdraw the image, with some citing a problem with the alignment of Princess Charlotte’s sleeve and wrist. Others on social media flagged what they said were oddities, like the positioning of Prince Louis’s hands and the zipper on Kate’s jacket.

Hours earlier, Kensington Palace released the photo of Catherine, the first official royal photograph of the princess since her surgery. Prince William and Catherine often release photos of their family on major occasions, like Christmas or their children’s birthdays. Often it is Catherine, a keen photographer, behind the camera.

The palace said that William took the photo earlier in the week at their home in Windsor.

On Sunday evening, the Associated Press issued a “kill notification,” an industry term, for anyone using the photo, saying in an alert to journalists that on “closer inspection it appears that the source has manipulated the image.”

In an updated story on the photo, the AP said it showed an “inconsistency in the alignment” of Charlotte’s hand. The AP added that it had issued a retraction because “the source had manipulated the image” in a way that did not meet photo standards. A Reuters spokesperson said the photo was withdrawn after a post-publication inspection and added that the organization was “reviewing the matter.”

Press Association, the United Kingdom’s biggest news agency, retracted the picture on its service on Monday morning. In an emailed statement, a spokesperson said that in the “absence” of clarification from the palace, it was withdrawing the image. The royal family often releases official information via PA, which is then distributed to other media outlets. PA said that Kensington Palace would not be reissuing the original unedited photograph of Catherine and her children.

Media outlets worldwide, including The Post, ran the photo. The Post has since removed the image from its original story.

The photo’s release came after weeks of speculation about Catherine’s whereabouts spiraled on social media.

Kensington Palace announced in January that she would probably not resume official duties before April, and that they would only provide updates on her health when there was “significant new information to share.” They also said that Catherine was recovering at her home in Windsor.

The palace is typically tight-lipped when it comes to royal health, but the lack of recent photographs or updates nonetheless fueled wild rumors about her well-being and whereabouts.

Everyone’s asking: ‘Where is Kate?’ despite Kensington Palace assurances

Her last public appearance was on Christmas Day, when she was photographed attending a church service in Sandringham.

The photo of Catherine released on Sunday, Mother’s Day in Britain, was dated 2024 in Kensington Palace’s post.

“Thank you for your kind wishes and continued support over the last two months,” the post read. “Wishing everyone a Happy Mother’s Day.”

The British royal family has long been an expert at image projection — Queen Elizabeth II, who used to wear brightly colored outfits for her public appearances, once said that “I have to be seen to be believed.”

These projections have been especially important when the royals haven’t been making public appearances.

Even though King Charles III has largely been out of the public eye since Buckingham Palace announced he was undergoing treatment for cancer, the royal Instagram account has been buzzing with posts — since his diagnosis, the palace has posted images of the king holding Zoom chats with foreign leaders and greeting ambassadors behind closed doors. In a video montage, he is seen reading “get well” letters. On Sunday, the royal Instagram account posted a decades-old photo of Charles kissing his mother’s hand.

On Monday, Charles was expected to take part in the annual Commonwealth Day ceremony, a major set-piece event in the royal diary. While Prince William and Queen Camilla are expected to attend in person, Charles’s address will be delivered with a prerecorded message.

Somasundaram reported from Washington. Jennifer Hassan in London contributed to this report.

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