Tucker Carlson Pranked by YouTubers Pretending They Edited Kate Middleton Photo

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Updated: | Originally published:

Two YouTubers posted a video showing Tucker Carlson interviewing one of them posing as a fired Kensington Palace employee who edited a controversial manipulated U.K. Mother’s Day photo of Kate Middleton and her three children.

According to pranksters Josh Pieters and Archie Manners, who post videos under the YouTube account Josh & Archie, they duped former Fox News presenter Carlson into conducting the interview for his streaming service the Tucker Carlson Network.

In the video posted on Pieters’ X (formerly Twitter) account and on the Josh & Archie YouTube channel on March 14, four days after the photo was released, the pair chronicle their ruse, including photoshopping a fake employment contract and the Princess of Wales’ photo into a supposed original, unedited version (which the palace has not released). At the time of publication, the video had 1.5 million views on X and 60,000 views on YouTube.

The duo intentionally went public with the prank before the interview could air, Pieters tells TIME in a phone call on Sunday. 

“We obviously discussed it, but we thought that it would be a bit irresponsible potentially to let the actual interview publish,” he says, adding that “we just thought that this interview would obviously go so big on Tucker’s channel that it could potentially do some harm. So we thought it was a better idea to get it up first and to show what we did.” 

TIME has reached out to the Tucker Carlson Network for comment.

The botched photo editing, for which Kate took credit and apologized, furthered a media frenzy around the Princess of Wales’ whereabouts and her health after she was hospitalized for two weeks in January for a “planned abdominal surgery.” Kensington Palace said she would recover and return to the public eye after Easter, which is on March 31. The edited picture, which was presented on March 10 as the first look at Kate post-surgery other than a paparazzi photo, did not assuage the public’s concern, and instead heightened conspiracy theories about her. 

The prank started with Pieters sending an email to Carlson’s team on March 11, he tells TIME. The video shows the email that introduces Manners as “George,” a recently fired Kensington Palace digital content creator who wanted to “get my side of the story out,” saying: “They are not telling the truth about the Princess’ health, and are now willing to fire staff in order to conceal the truth.” 

Carlson’s team called on March 11 to discuss and asked for “proof” of George’s employment and the original photo, according to a recording of the call in the video. Pieters then photoshopped the released photo to make it look as though it was taken in December by adding a Christmas tree in the background window. Pieters also created a fake “letter of engagement” with a Kensington Palace emblem that featured the words “Every Little Helps”—the slogan of British supermarket chain Tesco—in Latin. One section of the contract said that if the employee failed their probationary period “the company retains the right to amputate 1 (1) limb of their choosing.”

Carlson’s team then confirmed the interview at a TV studio in Westminster, London on March 12, according to a screenshot of a text. Manners attended, using a hidden camera to record his surroundings and his phone to record himself, Pieters says. 

During the interview, Carlson—seated in front of a TCN (Tucker Carlson Network) sign—said, per the subtitles provided by the Josh & Archie YouTube account: “We’ve done our best to verify that your identity is what you say it is. You’re not a fake [Alexei] Navalny or doing a prank or anything.” 

Manners, posing as George, said the editing job was shoddy because it was “too big to do.” He said the photo, which the Prince and Princess of Wales’ social media accounts said was taken by Prince William in 2024, was actually taken by Kate’s maternal uncle, Gary Goldsmith, at Christmastime. 

After the interview, but with the cameras still rolling, Carlson said: “That was great and it was really interesting too.” 

After the interview, Carlson’s team told Manners in a text message that the interview would likely broadcast “early next week,” according to a screenshot shown in the footage. Before it could, though, the YouTubers exposed their prank to the world.

Pieters says he hasn’t heard from Carlson’s team or Kensington Palace about the video. 

“I think it is a silly enough thing that we think the palace would probably see the funny side of it,” Pieters says. “But as I said, that’s the reason we didn’t want the interview to go out, to not have this ripple effect of harm going out or more pressure on the Princess.” 

Pieters tells TIME his purpose in creating the video was to highlight quick judgments in today’s online world and to test whether news organizations are doing appropriate vetting. 

“We all see things very quickly and are quick to react to things and we have instant access to all kinds of information, and I'm not sure we question enough how verified and validated that information is,” he says.

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