Kate's 'sadness' at furore over her altered family photograph

Kate's 'sadness' at furore over her altered family photograph

The Princess of Wales was on Tuesday said to be “saddened” over the doctored photo which engulfed the royal family in fresh controversy.

Palace insiders insisted the “entirely innocent” mistake was an attempt to make the family portrait the best it could be and said she now hopes the row will die down after she apologised.

A source told the Evening Standard: “It is all very sad. She is still recuperating from abdominal surgery. She was just trying to make the photo look better.”

Her tweaking of the photo taken by Prince William led to picture agencies “killing” the image when the manipulation was discovered. It is understood to have been altered three times before it was officially released on Sunday by Kensington Palace.

Kate has publicly taken the blame and on Monday issued a personal apology for the “confusion” which has been dubbed “Kategate” and “Sleevegate”. She wrote on social media: “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.”

The photograph of Kate and her children was the first to be issued since the princess’s surgery and was released by the palace to mark Mother’s Day. It followed online concern over her health and showed the princess sitting with her arms around Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, with Prince George standing behind.

Concerns were raised over a missing part of Charlotte’s sleeve and the misaligned edge of her skirt and the positioning of Kate’s zip.

The Standard’s front page on Tuesday (Evening Standard)
The Standard’s front page on Tuesday (Evening Standard)

Despite calls for the original to be published, Kensington Palace said it would not be reissuing the unedited photograph.

After Monday’s apology, Kate was seen leaving Windsor in a car with William as he was driven to the Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey. The princess was understood to have been going to a private appointment.

Public relations and crisis consultant Mark Borkowski described the photograph as a “massive own goal” and said the unedited photograph should be released to regain trust.

He said: “It’s plausible she’s at home playing with the computer and using an AI tool, but if they’re really going to regain any sort of trust they should release the unedited photo. It can’t be that bad if they just made a few tweaks.

“I find they have risen to the challenge, provided the statement as an explanation — the question is with all the conspiracy theories running around, is whether people believe it and I’m not sure that they will.”

Mr Borkowski said it had exposed a public relations problem for the monarchy. “That’s the issue, there doesn’t seem to be that much joined up strategic thinking at the heart of the royal family at the moment, which leads to these problems where it’s a very difficult organisation to manage in terms of PR.”

He added: “It’s a nightmare, even the softer stories of Edward turning 60 this week haven’t really resonated at all because no one’s interested in them. They’re interested in the stars, they’re not interested in the supporting cast and that is a problem at the moment. They are under pressure, massively under pressure, this is a massive own goal.”

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

Under the licensing agreement issued to photo agencies for use of official royal photos, royal households usually stipulate: “This image must not be digitally enhanced, cropped, manipulated or modified in any manner or form.”

Kate had surgery on January 16 but details of her condition have been kept private. The controversy overshadowed the Commonwealth Day service, one of the key royal events of the year. William and the Queen led the royal family at the abbey in the absence of the King, who is continuing treatment for cancer.