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2nd Photo by Princess Kate Is Flagged as Edited Amid Scrutiny of U.K. Royals

When Catherine, Princess of Wales, confessed last week to digitally altering a photo of her with her children, news agencies began examining Catherine’s gallery of royal family photos for other examples of doctoring.

It didn’t take long: On Monday, Getty Images placed an editorial advisory on a second photo taken by Catherine, of Queen Elizabeth II surrounded by her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, saying the image had been altered before it was released by the palace.

In a statement, the news agency said that “in accordance with its editorial policy it has placed an editor’s note on a handout image stating the image has been digitally enhanced at source.”

The second altered photo raises further thorny questions about how Britain’s royal family communicates with the public. It also piles more scrutiny on Catherine, who has been caught in a maelstrom of rumors and speculation since she underwent abdominal surgery in January and receded from the public eye.

The Mother’s Day photo of her with her children, taken by her husband, Prince William, and released 10 days ago, was meant to calm the storm of questions. But it ignited a fresh round of speculation after The Associated Press, Reuters, Getty and other agencies recalled the image, saying it had been improperly manipulated.

A keen amateur photographer, Catherine has documented the royal family in many private moments, and sometimes tweaking the results, she admitted last week. Buckingham Palace and Kensington Palace, where she and William have their offices, have distributed these photos to the news media, and they regularly appear on the front pages of British papers.

The picture of the queen flanked by 10 children, which was shot by Catherine at Balmoral Castle in Scotland in August 2022, appears to have multiple visual inconsistencies. Most conspicuously, there is a mismatch in the vertical line on the queen’s tartan skirt.

Kensington Palace declined to comment on the photo, which it released last year on what would have been the queen’s 97th birthday.

Catherine apologized on social media for the Mother’s Day picture, posting, “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.”

As the rumors continued to fly, the palace refused to comment on a video that surfaced on Monday, which appeared to show Catherine and William walking out of a food shop near their home in Windsor, west of London.

If authenticated, the video, posted on the American celebrity gossip site TMZ, would be the first footage of Catherine since before she entered the hospital. It also appeared on the website of the British tabloid The Sun, which published stills on its front page on Tuesday, as did another tabloid, The Daily Mail.

The video appears to show Catherine, in athletic clothing, striding into a parking lot with William, who is wearing a baseball cap. Both are carrying bags of groceries. The Sun reported earlier that Catherine had been seen shopping on Saturday and watching her children play sports on Sunday.

“Great to see you again, Kate!” said the paper, which has been among the most devoted backers of the 42-year-old princess.

The heavy coverage was in stark contrast to how the tabloids handled a paparazzi shot of Catherine riding in a car with her mother, which was posted on TMZ two weeks ago. The papers declined to publish that photo even though it had circulated widely on social media, citing Kensington Palace’s appeal that Catherine be allowed to recuperate from her medical treatment in private.

The British news media has struggled to balance its customary respect for privacy in royal health matters with what has become an epic daily slurry of online speculation about the condition of Catherine, as well as that of King Charles III. Buckingham Palace announced last month that the king had been diagnosed with an undisclosed form of cancer after undergoing surgery for an enlarged prostate in January.

While Charles has appeared in recent photos and videos, including with the British prime minister, Rishi Sunak, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, that has not stopped rampant speculation about the gravity of his illness — or even unfounded rumors of his death, which featured in spurious news reports in Russia on Monday.

Telegram channels reported that Charles had died, citing a phony news release from Buckingham Palace, dated March 18, which said, “The king passed away unexpectedly yesterday afternoon.” The format and terse wording was not unlike that used by the palace in September 2022 to report the death of Elizabeth.

The rumor that Charles had become one of Britain’s shortest-serving monarchs spread so rapidly in Russia that it began to compete with analysis of last weekend’s rubber-stamp election that set President Vladimir V. Putin on a course to be Russia’s longest serving leader since Catherine the Great in the 1700s.

After the false story was picked up by news sites like Sputnik and spread to Ukraine, the British embassies in both countries felt obliged to issue denials, both falling back on a term popularized by former President Donald J. Trump in the United States.

“Reports of the death of King Charles III of Great Britain are fake!” the embassy in Moscow posted on X. “We would like to inform you that the news about the death of King Charles III is fake,” posted the embassy in Kyiv.

An official at Buckingham Palace told reporters that the palace would not dignify the reports with any response.

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