Princess Kate's first pic since surgery removed from news agencies due to digital altering

London, UK - Kensington Palace released an altered photograph of the United Kingdom's Princess Catherine on Sunday, leading news agencies to withdraw the image, the first to be officially released since her abdominal surgery.

Several photo agencies removed a family pic featuring Princess Kate and her three children due to digital altering of the image.
Several photo agencies removed a family pic featuring Princess Kate and her three children due to digital altering of the image.  © Screenshot/X/@KensingtonRoyal

The photo, issued to mark Mother's Day in the UK, shows the smiling Princess of Wales sitting on a garden chair, dressed in jeans, a sweater, and a dark jacket, surrounded by her three laughing children, George, Charlotte, and Louis.

But close examination shows that Princess Charlotte's left hand is misaligned with the sleeve of her cardigan, casting doubt on the authenticity of the image.

After publishing the photo provided by the palace, the Associated Press, Reuters, and AFP decided to withdraw it.

Kanye West's wife Bianca Censori is unrecognizable in latest pictures
Kanye West Kanye West's wife Bianca Censori is unrecognizable in latest pictures

"It has come to light that this handout photo... had been altered and therefore it was withdrawn from AFP systems," the agency said in a note to clients.

The AP said it had retracted the image because on "closer inspection, it appeared the source had manipulated the image in a way that did not meet AP's photo standards."

A Kensington Royal post from Kate responded to the controversy: "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."

Princess Kate absent from the public eye

Prince William and his wife, Kate, have taken on more royal duties since Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's move to the United States.
Prince William and his wife, Kate, have taken on more royal duties since Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's move to the United States.  © Chris Jackson / POOL / AFP

The release of the photograph came after an unusually long public absence for Kate.

The 42-year-old princess, whose husband Prince William is heir to the British throne, has been recovering from surgery mainly at their home in Windsor, west of London, since leaving hospital on January 29.

"Thank you for your kind wishes and continued support over the last two months," read a message accompanying the palace's photo on the social media platform X.

Ben Affleck dishes on Jennifer Lopez marriage and hits back at rumors that he's "mean"
Jennifer Lopez Ben Affleck dishes on Jennifer Lopez marriage and hits back at rumors that he's "mean"

"Wishing everyone a Happy Mother's Day," said the message, which was signed "C" for Catherine.

In a statement, the palace said the photo was taken "in Windsor earlier this week" by Prince William.

It was the first official image of Kate released by the royal family since her hospitalization at the London Clinic on January 16 for an abdominal surgery.

Kate's absence sparks conspiracy theories

Princess Kate has become subject to online conspiracy theories amid her absence due to abdominal surgery.
Princess Kate has become subject to online conspiracy theories amid her absence due to abdominal surgery.  © JEFF GILBERT / POOL / AFP

The future queen was last photographed in public during a Christmas Day walk in Sandringham, eastern England.

Photos published by TMZ earlier in March showed Kate wearing sunglasses while being driven in a car, with the celebrity news site saying they were taken near Windsor Castle.

UK media outlets including the Daily Mail and The Sun chose not to publish the pictures.

The sighting came after a flurry of conspiracy theories on social media over the famously hard-working and dutiful princess's absence from the spotlight.

The speculation came despite Kensington Palace clearly saying at the time of her surgery that she would be "unlikely to return to public duties until after Easter."

It also said the surgery was not related to cancer.

Kate's hospitalization came almost simultaneously with the announcement that William's father, King Charles, had been admitted for surgery for a benign prostate condition and subsequently diagnosed with an unrelated cancer.

Charles (75) visited his daughter-in-law's bedside after being admitted himself on January 26.

The king withdrew from public duties during his treatment, though he attended church services and held his weekly audience with the prime minister.

Queen Camilla steps in

Charles's wife Queen Camilla (76) has been the most visible senior royal, stepping in to cover many of her husband's public duties during his treatment.

She is now on a break until March 11, when she is expected to join William and other senior royals at the annual Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey.

She is reported to be on holiday this week, effectively meaning all four of the most senior royals are out of action.

William and Kate have taken on more royal duties since his younger brother Prince Harry and his wife Meghan left for the United States in 2020, and the king's brother Prince Andrew stepped back because of his friendship with the convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

Cover photo: Screenshot/X/@KensingtonRoyal

More on Royals: