British Royal Family

Princess Kate apologizes for manipulating family photo, says she was experimenting with editing

"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," Kate said in a statement

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Kate Middleton is "apologizing for any confusion" a photo of her released by the palace may have caused, admitting to editing the picture in a statement Monday morning.

The first official photo of the Princess of Wales since undergoing abdominal surgery nearly two months ago was released Sunday along with a statement thanking the public for its support. But within hours, major news agencies issued "kill notices" pulling the photo from circulation because the image appeared to have been manipulated.

"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," Kate said a statement posted on the The Prince and Princess of Wales' social media accounts. The "C" suggested that it was written by Kate, whose full name is Catherine.

The photo in question showed a healthy looking Kate seated in a chair surrounded by her three children. It was credited to her husband, Prince William, heir to the throne, and was said to be taken earlier in the week in Windsor.

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

Kensington Palace had issued the image Sunday as speculation and conspiracy theories swirled online about the whereabouts of the oft-photographed princess who hadn’t been seen in public since December.

But efforts to tamp down rumors and supposition may have backfired after royal observers noticed inconsistencies in the photo’s details.

A close study of the image revealed inconsistencies that suggested it had been altered, for instance in the alignment of Princess Charlotte’s left hand with the sleeve of her sweater.

A photo of the Princess of Wales and her three children released by the palace Sunday morning was hours later removed from several of the world's biggest photo agencies over "manipulation" concerns. (Original Image: Kensington Palace/Image with strikeout: The Associated Press)

Later Sunday, The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse all issued advisories for media outlets not to use the image.

"The Associated Press initially published the photo, which was issued by Kensington Palace," the agency said in a statement to NBC News. "The AP later retracted the image because at closer inspection, it appears that 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."

Reuters sent an advisory to subscribers that the image "has been withdrawn following a post-publication review."

Kate, 42, underwent abdominal surgery in January and was released from the hospital after a two-week stay following the procedure. At the time, the palace said Kate wasn't expected to return to her public duties until after Easter and would only provide updates if there was "significant new information to share." Still, the lack of recent photographs and explanation for her subsequent long recovery have fueled rumors about her well being.

Last month, the typically tight-lipped palace released a statement saying she was doing well and reiterating its previous statement. It came after Prince William renewed public concern by canceling an appearance at a memorial for his late godfather King Constantine II of Greece due to a "personal matter."

“Kensington Palace made it clear in January the timelines of the princess’ recovery and we’d only be providing significant updates,” the palace said on Feb. 29. “That guidance stands.”

Still, rumors have persisted and last week Kate was photographed riding in the passenger seat of a car alongside her mother, Carole Middleton, near Windsor Castle.

Ever since Kate Middleton’s abdominal surgery in January and the cancellation of all public appearances, rumors have run rampant over her condition. Now, we’re getting a first glimpse of the royal as she continues to recover from her surgery.

Further questions were raised last week when the British military appeared to jump the gun in announcing Kate would attend a Trooping the Color ceremony in June, apparently without consulting palace officials.

The appearance would have been her first major official duty since the surgery but Kensington Palace didn't confirm any scheduled public events for Kate. It’s up to palace officials, not government departments, to announce and confirm the royals’ attendance at events.

The army later removed the reference to her attendance.

British media reported that the army did not seek approval from Kensington Palace before publishing details about Kate's appearance in June, and announced the event based on the expectation that Kate, in her role as Colonel of the Irish Guards, would inspect the troops this year at the annual military ceremony.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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