Kate Middleton’s Photograph Controversy, Explained

At last.
kate and williamGetty

Kensington Palace has attempted to put an end to months of speculation around Kate Middleton’s whereabouts, by releasing the first official photograph of the princess since she underwent planned abdominal surgery in January. The photo itself, however, has only caused more controversy.

The Palace commemorated UK Mother’s Day via Instagram, with a portrait of Kate and her three children: George, 10, Charlotte, 8, and Louis, 5.

“Thank you for your kind wishes and continued support over the last two months. Wishing everyone a Happy Mother’s Day. C,” the caption for the posts read, signing off with the first letter of her full name, Catherine. Prince William was also credited with the photography, and the snap was dated 2024.

Image: @princeandprincessofwales

But fans were quick to point out several unusual aspects of the photo. Among them, the position of Charlotte’s hands, the alignment of her skirt, the pattern of Louis’ jumper, and the fact that all the children appear to have their fingers crossed. Some also pointed out that the tree in the background of the photo has lush green leaves on it, which is at odds with usual greenery patterns in Autumn in the UK.

On Twitter, one user even theorised that Kate’s face looked to have been doctored, using an image taken from a Vogue cover shoot shot in 2016. 

Hours after the picture was published, several large news wire services including the Associated Press (AP), Agence France Presse (AFP), Getty Images, the Press Association (PA) and Reuters instructed clients to remove it because it had been digitally manipulated.

According to AP, 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.”

In fact, speculation grew so intense that the palace was forced to respond, breaking the usual royal PR protocol of, “never complain, never explain.” 

 “Like many amateur photographers, I do occasionally experiment with editing,” Kate said via a statement.

“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. C”

Kate on Christmas Day, 2023. Image: Getty

The following day, Kate was spotted in a car with Prince William, leaving Windsor Castle. 

According to The Daily Mail, who obtained this photo, William was en route to the annual Commonwealth Day service, while Kate would be attending a “private appointment” instead.

The photo drama and subsequent real-life sighting come just a week after a spokesperson for Prince William broke his silence on the conspiracy theories surrounding his wife.

According to the royal’s spokesperson, the reason for Prince William’s initial silence was because “his focus is on his work and not on social media.”

Also last week, the princess was seen by paparazzi in the passenger seat of a vehicle driven by her mother, Carole Middleton, near Windsor Castle.

In the photos, published by TMZ, Kate is wearing a dark coat and sunglasses.

It was the first time the royal had been seen since a Christmas church service in Sandringham, Norfolk, in 2023.

What Happened To Kate Middleton?

In early 2024, the public were told that Kate was to undergo urgent abdominal surgery in a London hospital. She was expected to remain in the hospital for two weeks before returning home to convalesce until Easter.

While royal watchers have been happy to accept this explanation, in late February 2024, Prince William dropped out of attending his own godfather’s memorial service (where he was due to give a speech) citing “personal reasons”.

Some experts suggested that he may have pulled out due to the devastating news about the passing of Thomas Kingston (husband to Lady Gabriella Windsor), aged just 45.

Yet, you know the internet. Where there is an absent royal for an extended period and unexplained “personal reasons” they will find a way to theorise and speculate.

What Were The Kate Middleton Conspiracy Theories?

The conspiracy theories reached such a fever pitch, that Kensington Palace were forced to release a statement. However, it didn’t give much more detail than the public were already been told.

“Kensington Palace made it clear in January the timelines of the Princess’ recovery and we’d only be providing significant updates. That guidance stands,” a spokesperson said. They said (again) that Kate is “doing well.”

Below, we have collated some of the most unlikely, unhinged and hilarious explanations for Middleton’s extended stay from the spotlight below.


We’re just glad that Kate Middleton feeling better, and hopefully, close to re-joining society.

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