AP retracts Kate Middleton photo ‘because it appeared to be manipulated’

Kate Middleton in 2019.
(Victoria Jones / Associated Press)

After weeks of wild speculation about her health, the state of her marriage and even the collapse of the House of Windsor, Catherine, Princess of Wales, supposedly marked the U.K. Mother’s Day holiday on Sunday by sharing a photo of herself surrounded by her children, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis.

But the Associated Press retracted the photo from distribution hours later “because it appeared to be manipulated,” the news agency said. The Times is removing the photo from this story in response.

In explaining the decision, the news agency said it “initially published the photo, which was issued by Kensington Palace. But AP later retracted the image because at closer inspection, it appeared the source had 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.”


Royal officials have not commented on the retraction by AP and other wire agencies.

“Thank you for your kind wishes and continued support over the last two months,” read the caption, signed “C.” “Wishing everyone a Happy Mother’s Day.” The photo, in which the seated, smiling Kate is flanked by the three grinning youngsters in cozy sweaters, is credited in the post to William, Prince of Wales.

The Princess of Wales’ absence from the public eye has sparked wild speculation online, revealing more about the Windsors’ strange celebrity than Kate’s health.

Feb. 29, 2024

The purported Mother’s Day message comes a week after the senior royal was captured in paparazzi photos making her first public outing since undergoing abdominal surgery Jan. 16. Despite a Kensington Palace statement Jan. 17 announcing that Catherine was “unlikely to return to public duties until after Easter,” her so-called “disappearance” in the time since has provoked rampant gossip online over the nature of her ailment.

Such questions exploded from Reddit threads and tabloid pages to mainstream news outlets last month when William cited personal matters as his reason for missing the funeral of his late godfather, King Constantine of Greece. Also contributing to anxiety over the state of the British royal family is King Charles III’s concurrent treatment for an undisclosed form of cancer.

Times senior writer Meredith Blake contributed to this report.