A royal scandal

“Amateur photographer” flamed for poorly edited Mother’s Day picture

The Royal family is no stranger to publicity. As monarchy prevails in modern society, so does the media attention surrounding their lives. In the 1990s, Princess Diana rose in popularity becoming an international icon following her title as Princess of Wales after marrying Charles III.


Today, the current Princess of Wales, Catherine (Kate) is under public scrutiny as rumors of her health circulate.

Gabriel Theriault – Argosy Illustrator

The Princess of Wales, last seen Christmas 2023 leaving church, has become a popular media topic in recent months. Her disappearance from tabloids and silence on social media has encouraged conspiracy theories about her current state. These rumors were momentarily appeased on March 10 when Princess Kate shared an image of herself and her three kids for Mother’s Day. 


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


However, the post did not quell the rumors for long. Shortly after the image was shared, online personnel began noticing discrepancies which indicated that the image had been altered. An image meant to celebrate motherhood and confirm Princess Kate’s health has since sparked an online frenzy, feeding questions of what is going on with the Princess of Wales and why the photo was altered. 


British tabloids have had exclusive access to the Royal family for more than 40 years. Newspapers such as The Daily Mail, The Times, and The Sun are members of the royal rota — a system established to grant media representatives exclusive access to royal events. Princess Kate herself has an understanding with media personnel. She has granted permission to the British newspapers to print the images shared to her Instagram in hopes that her children may rarely be targeted by the paparazzi. Princess Diana orchestrated a similar deal whilst living among royals, the press was invited to the milestone events of Princess Diana’s children for photo ops in exchange for privacy. Because of this access, the public has grown accustomed to constant updates on the royal family, and therefore Princess Kate’s disappearance was immediately noticed. 


January 17, nearly a month after Princess Kate’s last appearance, Kensington Palace announced that the Princess had undergone a planned abdominal surgery. The next day, her husband Prince William was photographed visiting the hospital and eleven days later Princess Kate was reportedly released and went home. However, the public received no images of the recovering Princess, a fact that fueled theories as to why she was hiding. Famously having been photographed immediately following the birth of her eldest son, the public held a standard of being invited wherever the Princess went, including the hospital. Nonetheless, the silence continued, with an image taken of Princess Kate and her mother not being published due to reported pressure from the Palace. 


Following the removal of Princess Kate’s image from media agencies, she released a statement to @KensingtonRoyal confirming the allegations of manipulation: “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.”


This statement has done nothing to quell the rumors. Since the photo scandal, Prince William’s previously alleged mistress, Lady Rose Hanbury has entered the scene. Despite the publicized friendship between Princess Kate and Hanbury, rumors began in 2019 of an affair between Prince William and Hanbury while Princess Kate was pregnant with their third child. At the time, Kensington Palace denied the rumors, but amid the recent scandal, they have begun anew. 


Despite the relationship between the crown and the media, some secrets remain. The recent incident highlights a clash between journalistic ethics and expectations of celebrity perfection. The Palace retains its refusal to release the unedited photo of Princess Kate and her children, a refusal that only raises more questions about what is being hidden. Can this all be a consequence of heightened expectations of appearance or is there something deeper lurking beneath? For answers, followers will have to wait for season seven of Netflix’s The Crown

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