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Kate Middleton’s Mother’s Day Pic Is Not the First Royal Family Photo to Come Under Scrutiny

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On Monday, Kate Middleton apologized for editing a family photo that was released to news wires to mark Mother's Day in the United Kingdom. The move came hours after Associated Press, AFP, and Reuters, pulled the photo, saying it had been altered in violations of their photography standards.

"Like many amateur photographers, I do occasionally experiment with editing," read a statement posted to the Prince and Princess of Wales's social media accounts. "I wanted to express my apologies for any confusion the family photograph we shared yesterday caused."

But Middleton's Mother's Day picture is not the first royal family photo to come under scrutiny.

Last year, the family's 2023 holiday season portrait generated tabloid buzz because it looks like five-year-old Prince Louis was missing a middle finger. Even Saturday Night Live poked fun at it, with "Weekend Update" anchor Colin Jost joking, “Meghan Markle said she has a finger they can use if they need it.”

Royal family photos have occasionally been criticized for looking too staged. In 2015, BuzzFeed zeroed in on baby Princess Charlotte's smile, which appeared forced, and speculated whether the photo had been edited. And in April 2023, tech CEO Christopher Bouzy—who appears in the Netflix docuseries about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle—argued a photo that Kate Middleton took of the Queen Elizabeth and eight of her grandchildren at Balmoral shortly before the monarch passed away had to have been photoshopped—but didn't criticize it. As he put it, per the Daily Mail, "It isn't easy to get the perfect photo with 10 children. It appears they took multiple shots and then edited the photo to make it perfect. I would've done the same.'

There was a hairy situation in 2014 involving a balding Prince William. Tabloids questioned whether a photo on the cover of Vanity Fair taken with Kate Middleton and baby Prince George at Sydney's Taronga zoo had been enhanced to make it look like he had more hair than he actually did. The publication had to respond, denying that it used any special effects to give William more hair, but clarified, "We gave the image a poster-like palette. We added some shadow to Prince William to make the white type more legible, and to place more emphasis on Prince George."

There has been a heightened curiosity about Middleton's welfare since Kensington Palace announced in January that she had abdominal surgery and was taking a break from public appearances until after Easter. The controversial Mother's Day 2024 photo is the first picture the royal family has released of Middleton since her procedure. And questions about her whereabouts will only continue until she resumes public duties.

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Write to Olivia B. Waxman at olivia.waxman@time.com