Kensington Palace Refuses to Release the Original, Unedited Photo of Princess Kate That Is Causing So Much Controversy

Metadata from the photo in question shows it was “saved in Adobe Photoshop twice on an Apple Mac” over the weekend.

Kate Middleton
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The Prince and Princess of Wales were spotted today in a car together leaving Windsor Castle; William is due to attend the annual Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey, but Kate will not join him, reports say. William was reportedly headed to the service and while it isn’t known where Kate was headed, she “appears to be following a similar route into central London,” The Daily Express reports. “Princess Kate was pictured sitting in the backseat of the car and looking out of the window, whereas William was looking ahead.”

Earlier in the day, around 10:30 a.m. U.K. time, Kate—in an unprecedented move—wrote on X (the platform formerly known as Twitter) “Like many amateur photographers, I do occasionally experiment with editing. 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.” (Yesterday marked the U.K.’s Mother’s Day, whereas the U.S. celebrates in May.) We know the message is from Kate specifically, as it was signed with “C,” signifying that Catherine (the princess’ formal name) wrote it. 

The apology came after news agencies like AP, Reuters, Getty, and AFP pulled the image, released by Kensington Palace earlier yesterday, off of its servers last night, claiming that the photo had been manipulated. A source told People that Kate made what they called “minor adjustments” to the “amateur family photograph taken by the Prince of Wales.” William and Kate’s motivation, likely in the face of speculation and conspiracy theories surrounding Kate’s health, was “to offer an informal picture of the family together for Mother’s Day,” the source added. “The family spent Mother’s Day together and had a wonderful day.”

Princess Kate apology

Kate apologized via social media about the photo in question

(Image credit: Courtesy of the Prince and Princess of Wales / Instagram)

The Palace would not specify what part of the photo—which marked the first time Kate had been seen in any officially released capacity since Christmas Day—was altered. When AP issued what is called a “kill notification”—which alerted journalists that after “closer inspection is appears that the source has manipulated the image”—the lion’s share of attention focused on the left hand of Princess Charlotte. Others “highlighted inconsistencies in the alignment of the sweater pattern on Prince Louis’ shoulder, as well as a jagged white line in the background near his knee,” People reports. An AP spokesperson released a statement to The Telegraph that read “The photo shows an inconsistency in the alignment of Princess Charlotte’s left hand.”

Sky News said that, in an examination of the photo’s metadata, it revealed that the photo was saved in Adobe Photoshop twice on an Apple Mac on Friday and Saturday, and that the photo was taken on a Canon camera.

The photo was released to quell speculation and reassure the public about Kate’s ongoing recovery following her abdominal surgery in January, but instead it’s opened up a host of other concerns. Perhaps the newly heightened fervor over this most recent controversy could be squashed by Kensington Palace releasing the original, undoctored image, but the Palace is reportedly refusing to do so. Speaking to PA, Britain’s national news agency, the Palace confirmed it “would not be reissuing the original unedited photograph of Kate and her children.” PA withdrew the photo after it asked Kensington Palace for clarification but “in the absence of that clarification, we are killing the image from our picture service,” it said. 

Prince William Kate Middleton

William and Kate were spotted riding together in a car leaving Windsor Castle, but only William was at today's Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey

(Image credit: Getty Images)

After their car ride together, William arrived at Westminster Abbey alongside Queen Camilla for the Commonwealth Day Service. Upon arrival, William was chatting with the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh, Edward and Sophie, and Princess Anne. Kate, as predicted, was not in attendance.

Rachel Burchfield
Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor

Rachel Burchfield is a writer, editor, and podcaster whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family and other royal families around the world. She serves as Marie Claire’s Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor and has also contributed to publications like Allure, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, People, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and W, among others. Before taking on her current role with Marie Claire, Rachel served as its Weekend Editor and later Royals Editor. She is the cohost of Podcast Royal, a show that was named a top five royal podcast by The New York Times. A voracious reader and lover of books, Rachel also hosts I’d Rather Be Reading, which spotlights the best current nonfiction books hitting the market and interviews the authors of them. Rachel frequently appears as a media commentator, and she or her work has appeared on outlets like NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN, and more.