Princess Kate photo released by royals removed by agencies over possible ‘manipulation’

Princess Kate photo released by royals removed by agencies over possible ‘manipulation’

Major news and photography agencies have removed a photograph of the Princess of Wales, released by Kensington Palace, over doubts the image has been “manipulated”.

A photo of Catherine with her children, Prince Louis, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, was released on the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s official social media accounts on Sunday evening, AEDT.

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The image was the first official photograph released following the princess’ abdominal surgery in January and was circulated by major news and photography agencies.

However, four of the largest agencies issued a “kill notice” for the image, asking those who were using it to remove it.

AP reported the reason for the image recall was: “It appears that the source [Kensington Palace] has manipulated the image in a way that did not meet AP’s photo standards.”

“The photo shows an inconsistency in the alignment of Princess Charlotte’s left hand,” AP stated.

AP said Kensington Palace declined to comment on its removal of the photo.

Reuters later reported it had removed the photo for similar reasons to AP. 

“Reuters picture editors said part of the sleeve of Kate’s daughter’s cardigan did not line up properly, suggesting that the image had been altered,” it said.

“Reuters could not immediately establish how, why or by whom the alteration had been made.

“Leading picture agencies distributing news photographs prohibit the publication of images that have been overly edited.”

The Reuters Handbook of Journalism states that Photoshop can only be used in limited matters like formatting, cropping, sizing and balancing tone and colour.

“Materially altering a picture in Photoshop or any other image editing software will lead to dismissal,” it says. 

AFP and Getty Images also issued their own notices and removed the image from their sites.

The photo is still up on the Princess’ social media accounts.

Clear evidence of manipulation

Dr TJ Thomson, senior lecturer in visual communication and digital media at RMIT, says the image shows clear evidence of manipulation.

“The most obvious example is around Princess Charlotte’s left sleeve cuff. The left side of Princess Kate’s hair and her right hand also appear to be unnaturally blurred,” he says.

A close up of Princess Charlote's hands, the cuff of her sweater seems to have been manipulated.

Princess Charlotte’s left sleeve cuff seems to have been manipulated.(Supplied)

Dr Thomson also ran the image through a forensic analysis software called WeVerify.

“That suggests that in addition to the cuff area on Princess Charlotte, the branches in the top-right corner of the image were also manipulated.”

He also pointed out that the left side of Princess Kate’s hair and her right hand appeared to be unnaturally blurred and the background behind Prince Louis seemed to be showing inconsistencies as well.

Image of the Princess of Wales, George, Charlotte and Louis with annotations of possible manipulations.

Dr Thomson points out that the left side of Princess Kate’s hair and her right hand appear to be unnaturally blurred.(Supplied)

Kensington Palace confirmed in January Princess Catherine was undergoing planned abdominal surgery and would spend two weeks in hospital before returning home to convalesce.

It announced she would temporarily withdraw from public duties until after Easter, which falls on March 31 this year.

Image of altered background behind prince Louis' leg.

Dr Thomson noted that the background behind Prince Louis seems to be showing inconsistencies as well.(Supplied)

No further detail about her condition was given, though the palace said: “The Princess of Wales appreciates the interest this statement will generate.”

“Thank you for your kind wishes and continued support over the last two months,” the social media post read.

“Wishing everyone a Happy Mother’s Day.”

The photograph was taken earlier this week in Windsor where the family live, her Kensington Palace office said.

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