Kate, Princess of Wales, apologizes for altering family photo that fueled rumors about her health

Category: Top Stories


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. speculation / ˌspɛk yəˈleɪ ʃən / (n.) – the act of making guesses or predictions about something without having all the information needed to be sure

    The singer released a statement on social media to avoid further speculation as to why she canceled her concert.

  2. digital manipulation / ˈdɪdʒ ɪ tl məˌnɪp yəˈleɪ ʃən / (n.) – the process of changing or editing media, such as photos or videos, to make it look different from the original

    Many magazines use digital manipulation to improve the appearance of models in their photos.

  3. retraction / rɪˈtræk ʃən / (n.) – an act of saying or admitting that something that was recently declared, published, or claimed was false or incorrect

    The retractions made by the newspaper companies reminded journalists to confirm their sources before publishing shocking stories.

  4. rampant / ˈræm pənt / (adj.) – spreading or growing quickly in a way that is difficult to control

    The spread of fake news on social media has become rampant, causing confusion and misinformation among the public.

  5. eclipse / ɪˈklɪps / (v.) – to make something seem less good, important, impressive, or popular

    The new fashion trend quickly eclipsed the one from last month.


Read the text below.

Kate, Princess of Wales, apologized on March 11 for “confusion” caused by her altering of a family photo released by the palace—an image of Kate and her children that was intended to calm concern and speculation about the British royal’s health but had the opposite effect.

Several news agencies that initially published the photo, including The Associated Press, withdrew the image over concerns about digital manipulation. Issued by the couple’s Kensington Palace office on March 10 to mark Mother’s Day in Britain, it was the first official photo of 42-year-old Kate since she had abdominal surgery nearly three months ago.

The retractions sent the online rumor mill, already rampant with speculation over Kate’s operation and recuperation, into overdrive. The PR disaster is more evidence that the royal family’s long-held mantra—“never complain, never explain”—is impossible in a social media-saturated era.

In a post on social media, Kate said that “like many amateur photographers, I do occasionally experiment with editing.”

Former BBC royal correspondent Peter Hunt said the mishandled photo release “is damaging for the royals.” “Their challenge is that people will now question whether they can be trusted and believed when they next issue a health update,” he wrote on X.

The royal family is under particular scrutiny because King Charles III has also had to cancel public duties while he undergoes treatment for an unspecified form of cancer. The monarch has canceled all his public engagements, though he has been photographed walking to church and meeting privately with government officials and dignitaries.

Charles’ relative openness about his diagnosis was a departure from the generally secretive royal family. But it has been eclipsed in popular interest by curiosity over Kate’s condition. In the absence of firm information, conspiracy theories have rushed to fill the vacuum.

At the time, royal aides told The Sun newspaper: “We’ve seen the madness of social media […], but the princess has a right to privacy and asks the public to respect that.”

“The question is, with all the conspiracy theories running around, is whether people believe it. And I’m not sure that they will,” said veteran public relations consultant Mark Borkowski.

This article was provided by The Associated Press.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • Peter Hunt said that the mishandled photo release “is damaging for the royals.” How do you think the incident is damaging for the royals? Discuss.
  • Hunt also said that the royals’ challenge is that people will now question whether they can be trusted and believed when they next issue a health update. Do you believe that people will not trust the royals anymore the next time they release information about themselves? Why or why not? What do you think they should do to regain people’s trust (ex. provide an explanation about the issue, be transparent about the royals’ condition)? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • Do you think that the royal family’s long-held mantra—“never complain, never explain”—is a good strategy? Why or why not? Why do you think the article mentions that this is impossible in a social media-saturated era? Discuss.
  • Royal aides said that they’ve seen the madness of social media, but the public must still respect the princess’ right to privacy. Do you believe that respecting a public figure’s privacy is more important than satisfying the public’s need for information and updates, especially for a royal princess like Kate? Why or why not? Discuss.