Experts Warn Against ‘Bullying’ Kate Middleton After Altered Photo Controversy Citing Her ‘Fragile’ State

Mar 14, 2024 by apost team

Early 2024 saw the British royal family rocked by news of serious health issues. Buckingham Palace announced on Jan. 17, 2024, that King Charles III was scheduled to undergo hospital treatment the following week for an enlarged prostate. The next day, his wife, Queen Camilla, said Charles was feeling “fine” and “looking forward to getting back to work.” 

That same day, Kensington Palace revealed in a statement that the Princess of Wales, Kate Middleton, had undergone abdominal surgery that had been scheduled the day prior at the London Clinic. It said the surgery had been “successful” and that the princess would remain at the hospital for a 10–14-day recovery period. However, the statement added that Kate was unlikely to resume her usual royal duties until after Easter.

News of the pair’s hospitalization led to an outpouring of well wishes and support from their supporters across the world. This came as no surprise as both Charles and Kate are among some of the most popular members of the royal family.

Charles ascended the throne after the death of Britain's longest-reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, on Sept. 8, 2022. As king, Charles endeavored to ensure the royal family remained in good standing with the public, adapting to modern times to prevent the institution from being perceived as outdated.

Another reason why the royal family remains popular is Kate. Since her marriage to Prince William in April 2011, she’s captured the hearts of the public with her duty to the British crown, her kind and attentive nature, and her fashionable sense of style. Kate is known for her poise, elegance and charm. 

Read on to discover how the royal family is coping during this challenging time.

Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, Diana, Princess of Wales, Prince William (date not given), (Tim Graham/Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)

King Charles III was admitted to the London Clinic for specific treatment on Jan. 26, 2024. He was discharged after three nights. The palace later announced that all his prior engagements would be postponed to allow him sufficient time to rest and recuperate. In the following days, Queen Camilla again stated that Charles had been “doing his best” since the treatment before the pair made their first public appearance together on Feb. 4, 2024, at Sandringham Church. There, Charles gave the crowd a reassuring wave, raising the people’s spirits. This reassurance was short-lived as Buckingham Palace disclosed devastating news the following day.

It revealed that, during Charles’ prostate treatment, “diagnostic tests have identified a form of cancer,” while stressing it was not prostate cancer. The statement said the king had “commenced a schedule of regular treatments” while his public-facing duties were postponed on the advice of his doctors. However, the 75-year-old monarch would “continue to undertake State business and official paperwork as usual,” it added.

Meanwhile, Kensington Palace did not elaborate on what specific health issue Kate Middleton was suffering from but stressed it was not cancer-related. The public was quick to offer their well-wishes for a speedy recovery as the media jumped into high gear, with reports the princess had slipped into a coma being resoundingly refuted as “total nonsense.” Scores of photographers were assigned to the London Clinic in an attempt to garner photos of the princess upon her departure. They were, however, unsuccessful, as the news would later surface that Kate had left the hospital without her exit being spotted. 

Twelve days later, on Jan. 29, 2024, the palace released another statement revealing that Kate had returned to her residence in Windsor Castle to continue recuperating from the surgery and that she was “making good progress.”

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge (2021), (Owen Humphreys-WPA Pool/Getty Images)

After leaving the hospital, Kate settled into her home at Adelaide Cottage in Home Park, Windsor. There, she recuperated comfortably among family and leaned on their loyal staff, including long-time nanny Maria Teresa Turrion Borrallo. Meanwhile, Prince William reportedly took the lead in caring for their three children, switching to “100% family first, day job second” mode, according to a Sunday Times source. 

According to the National Health Service (NHS), it is generally expected that those recovering from abdominal surgery may need to wait two to three months before moving around comfortably. They must also avoid lifting heavy weights above two or three kilograms (about 4.4 to 6.6 pounds). Standing and sitting exercises are recommended to help rebuild the core area. However, the abdominal area can take up to two years to return to its original strength for full recovery. 

While Kate’s return to her royal duties will no doubt depend on the advice of her doctors, some estimated her recovery would take longer than suggested, even up to nine months, according to one expert. Others lauded the princess for taking the time she needed to rest and recuperate, with one royal household insider telling People:

“It is sensible to take the time. … That is a great example to the rest of us, as you’re often told to get back to work as soon as possible, which can be damaging. It is good for all of us to see her taking the time, recovering properly and then coming back. We can all learn from that.”   

Meanwhile, others found optimism in the fact that William has already made a partial return to his royal duties, attending a fundraiser for London’s Air Ambulance on Feb. 7, 2024. There, he spoke about his family’s recent health issues in public for the first time and thanked the public “for the kind messages and support for Catherine and for my father,” adding it “means a great deal to us all.”

Catherine, Princess of Wales (2023), (Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images)

Finally, on March 10, 2024, Kate released her first personal message to the public since her surgery more than a month prior. Lifting the spirits of fans and supporters, she released an endearing photo of herself on social media surrounded by her three children to mark Mother’s Day in Britain. The caption read:

“Thank you for your kind wishes and continued support over the last two months. Wishing everyone a Happy Mother’s Day.”

It was undersigned “C” in a personal touch by the princess. Another delightful surprise that had fans fawning included the credit for the photo, which revealed Kate’s husband, William, to be the one behind the camera who had expertly captured the marvelous candid shot of his beautiful family.

While Kate’s gesture was initially appreciated by the public and royal watchers, an issue with the photograph was spotted and led to numerous news agencies issuing a “kill notification.” This is an industry term referring to the mandatory retraction and pulling of the photo from publication. Among the agencies that issued the notice are Getty Images, AFP, Reuters, and Associated Press (AP), after it noticed “inconsistency in alignment of Princess Charlotte's left hand.”

AP added in a message to its subscribers: 

“At closer inspection it appears that the source has manipulated the image. No replacement photo will be sent.”

While the kill notice doesn’t necessarily imply that the photo itself is completely doctored – highly unlikely for Kensington Palace, which curates the Wales’ public presence with extreme precision – it does suggest the error may have simply been the result of an oversight during a touching-up process.

Many news outlets adhere to their individual stringent protocols regarding the utilization of altered images, opting to employ them solely alongside a clarification indicating the alteration from the original.

Catherine, Princess of Wales (2023), (Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images)

Just a few hours after the news agencies pulled the photo, the issue threatened to escalate even further. More edits were found in the photo, such as inconsistencies in the background, camera focus and the zipper on Kate’s jacket. Thus, instead of curbing speculation and quelling fears about Kate’s health, as its release was likely intended to, the discovery that the photo had been manipulated generated even more concern for the princess. This was likely the reason why Kate decided to address the issue by taking responsibility for the edits to the photograph. In a social media message the next day, Kate wrote:

“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. C.”

The image was the first of Kate to be seen since her surgery, although there has been no confirmation about when the photo was taken. With the discovery of the edits, some also speculated that the photo may have been a composite of a few different pictures to show Kate and all three of her children together. 

Meanwhile, the BBC’s royal correspondent, Sean Coughlan, argued that perhaps the public had “unfair expectations” of the royal family, wanting “the royals to be like us - taking a relaxed family picture for Mother's Day - but at the same time we want them to be completely different and special.”

Other parties, including one royal source, downplayed the issue, saying the picture was nothing more than an “amateur, family photograph” that was only released to mark Mother’s Day. 

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge (2017), (Chris Jackson-WPA Pool/Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images)

Meanwhile, social media sleuths have devised theories about how the photo was manipulated. Among the most gripping was the suspicion that the picture had been doctored using Kate’s British Vogue cover photo from June 2016. In a social media post, user Ruby Naldrett shared photos of the original magazine cover as well as subsequent photos with the Mother’s Day picture overlaid on it. The caption read:

“my analysis of the kate middleton photo saga is that they took her face from the vogue cover she did years ago and edited it in.”

In a single day since the post was shared on March 11, 2024, it has been viewed over 36.4 million times. One user noted how Kate’s “hair is blurry and translucent from them enhancing where the hat flattened it.” However, not all viewers were left convinced.

“It's nothing alike. It's just the same face with the same smile, because it's the same person. Otherwise it's not remotely similar,” one user wrote.

Another social media user, Paul Lomax, also shared his version of the two photos laid over one another and remarked:

“I just did this myself and it’s a pixel perfect fit. Genuinely it’s 100% that this is the vogue cover photo photoshopped in.” 

Lomax added, “somebody has definitely replaced Kate’s face in this photo, there can be zero doubt. Maybe she didn’t look her best and fancied wiping 8 years off the clock (the Vogue cover was 2016)… Her hobby is de-aging herself. 🤷‍♂️”

In a reply to users asking about the software tools likely used to manipulate the photo, Lomax shared more photos of the process and explained: “It’s not hard, the vogue photo is underneath the photo with the hair. Add a shadow with the burn tool where the hair goes over the vogue face. Easy.”

In the wake of the photo controversy, many have come to the princess’ defense. Computer sciences professor Dr Hany Farid told The Telegraph while “there is clearly evidence of editing,” they seem “genuinely benign” and “makes it hard to think there is something nefarious.”

Royal expert Neil Sean told Fox News Digital that insiders told him that Kate was “quite happy” to take responsibility for the mishap. 

“I believe someone else did the Photoshop 100%. And I think that she's being very gracious in accepting the blame… I think she is humiliated in some respects but doesn't really understand what this fuss is about.” 

Meanwhile, others were more concerned about how the uproar has affected Kate’s mental well-being, particularly during such a trying time when she should be prioritizing her health. Royal commentator Jennie Bond said it was likely Kate would “feel under intense pressure now whenever she’s going to be seen in public” and that the public and media were “in danger of bullying a lady who is trying to recover from a very serious operation.”

“I think of how she must be feeling this morning. Absolutely miserable. I think her Mother’s Day was obviously ruined by this row… She was photographed yesterday in the car with William. From what we see, she didn’t look that happy,” Bond added, referring to March 11, 2024, when the Prince and Princess of Wales were seen together in the back seat of a Range Rover leaving Windsor Castle.

Bond urged the public and media to refrain from putting any further strain on Kate that could jeopardize her recovery.

“The pressure has doubled and redoubled. I think she’s in a fragile mental and physical state. We should lay off her.”

Catherine, Princess of Wales (2022), (Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images)

What are your thoughts on the photo? We’d love to hear your thoughts and well wishes for King Charles III and the Princess of Wales during this challenging time. Feel free to let us know your messages and pass this along to your family and friends who may want to do the same.

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