The Kate Middleton Photo Controversy Keeps Getting More Confusing

Miu von Furstenberg 7 Min Read
7 Min Read
Catherine Princess of Wales attends Shaping Us National Symposium event
Photo by PA Images/INSTARimages

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The ongoing controversy surrounding the Kate Middleton photo scandal shows no signs of slowing down. Despite the royal family's admission that the Princess of Wales edited a family photo before sending it to news agencies, the story continues to garner attention. In fact, even Instagram has now chimed in on the matter.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's Instagram account has a following of over 15 million. On March 10, a controversial, heavily edited photo of Kate and their children was shared on the platform. However, if you visit the photo now, you will see that Instagram has added a text disclaimer stating that the photo has been altered. Independent fact-checkers also evaluated this same manipulated photo on a different post.

If you click on the caution, Instagram will display a notification stating that “according to independent fact-checkers, the photo or image has been altered in a manner that could deceive individuals, but not due to being presented out of context.” This credit is attributed to a fact-checker, EFE Verifica, as seen on their public SmartLink.

It is common knowledge that influencers and celebrities on Instagram often utilize editing tools such as Photoshop, filters, and airbrushing apps to alter the look of their photos. Surprisingly, Instagram does not seem to enforce warnings against these practices despite the prevalence of such actions, as seen with the Kardashian family. However, rather than focusing on changes made to Kate's hair or Princess Charlotte's sleeve, Instagram appears to be more concerned with the photo being presented as a news photo and subsequently being retracted by the news agencies that initially shared it.

Members of the royal family attend the Christmas Day service on the Sandringham estate
Members of the royal family attend the Christmas Day service on the Sandringham estate in Sandringham, Norfolk, United Kingdom. When: 25 Dec 2023 (Credit: Cover Images)

Instagram was requested to comment on why certain edited photos received a warning while others did not. However, they have not responded immediately.

This serves as a reminder that we live in a world where images can be easily manipulated. Even well-known individuals are at ease with presenting altered photos as genuine. However, it is always uncertain to what extent an image has been edited before its publication, so it is understandable for people to have doubts and skepticism.

This Week's Car Photo Controversy

Earlier this week, another controversy surrounded a photo of the princess. The photo agency responsible for providing a picture of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in a Range Rover on Monday, the same day the princess issued an apology for her edited image, is now speaking out about their own photo. In a statement, Goff Photos clarified that they only made minimal adjustments to the photo.

According to, the statement clarifies that the pictures of the Prince and Princess of Wales in the back of the Range Rover have been edited by cropping and lightening, but no alterations have been made. Goff Photos has not yet issued a response to the request for comment.

Members of the Royal Family to attend Together At Christmas Carol Service at Westminster Abbey
Members of the Royal Family to attend Together At Christmas Carol Service at Westminster Abbey. Featuring: Catherine, Princess of Wales. When: 08 Dec 2023 (Credit: Cover Images)

The Range Rover photo of William and Kate received less criticism from online detectives compared to the family photo, although it was still subject to some scrutiny. Some questioned the authenticity of the brick wall shown in the photo, while others suspected that Kate's hair was edited in from a previous photo. As a result, Goff Photos felt compelled to address the controversy.

According to NBC News, there is no proof that the photo was manipulated using digital technology.

What led us to this point?

Speculations arose about Kate's surgery

Kate Middleton, the wife of Prince William and the future queen of England, had to have abdominal surgery in January. The initial announcement regarding her health stated that she would not make any public appearances until after Easter. However, a recent paparazzi image of her and her mother was shared last week.

Amidst the palace's initial declaration, speculations surrounding Middleton's location became a hot topic on social media. Was she truly unwell? Deceased? Or had she distanced herself from Prince William? Although there was no substantiated proof for any of these hypotheses, with no updates from the Internet, individuals will fabricate their own versions.

It was clear that the family photo had been edited.

On March 10, the excitement increased when a photo of Kate and her children, which seemed like an ordinary family picture, was distributed to news organizations to celebrate Mother's Day in the UK. However, the groups later sent a rare request asking their clients to refrain from using the photo, citing concerns that it had been altered.

In just a few hours, the royal family accepted responsibility for altering the photo and the princess personally accepted fault.

Princess of Wales Visits Evelina London Childrens Day Surgery Unit
Catherine, Princess of Wales, visits the Evelina Children's Hospital and officially opens their new Day Surgery Unit in London, United Kingbom. When: 05 Dec 2023 (Credit: John Rainford/Cover Images)

In a rare instance of admitting wrongdoing, the speaker, who identifies as an amateur photographer, said she sometimes plays around with editing photographs. According to The Daily Mail, a British tabloid, the palace's spokesperson declined to share the original image. Kensington Palace has provided no statement in response to a comment request.

Next, the photo of the Range Rover was revealed.

Amidst the ongoing chatter on the web regarding the modified image, Goff Photos published their own snapshot featuring a Range Rover with two barely visible individuals, presumably Prince William and Kate.

The Palace officials had likely hoped the photo would end the worries surrounding Kate's well-being. However, due to existing doubts and the unclear nature of the photo, that outcome was not feasible. As a result, a plethora of new conspiracy theories emerged.



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