Kensington Palace Shares Photo of Kate Middleton Amid Online Conspiracy Theories

Kensington Palace shared Kate Middleton’s first official photograph after her January surgery on Sunday. The photo, featuring the princess alongside her three children, included a short message regarding British Mother’s Day.

“Thank you for your kind wishes and continued support over the last two months,” the statement reads.

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Catherine, Princess of Wales, underwent a planned abdominal surgery at The London Clinic on Jan. 16. While there was no public announcement ahead of her surgery, it was made known immediately afterward that the procedure was a success and that she would remain in the hospital to recover for 13 days.

At the time, the palace also announced that the princess would, based on medical advice, be “unlikely to return to public duties until after Easter.”

The statement and subsequent absence of the Princess sparked a deluge of conspiracy theories online, bolstered by the fact that at the time of the announcement, she had already not been seen in public since Christmas eve.

The rumors included speculation that the surgery was not planned and that the princess’ health was in more danger than the palace had let on. These theories grew louder when Prince William pulled out of a memorial service due to a “personal matter” at the end of February. A statement released shortly after his cancellation reiterated that the palace would “only provide updates on Her Royal Highness’ progress when there is significant new information to share.”

The initial January announcement also requested that the public understand Catherine’s wish “that her personal medical information remains private.”

Shortly after the Mother’s Day photo was released on Sunday, the picture was pulled by four major news agencies over fears the image was “manipulated.” The BBC reported that the four big photo agencies — Getty Images, Reuters, AFP and AP — ordered “photo kill” notices over the image over the manipulation concerns.

On social media, people pointed to the sleeve of Princess Charlotte’s arm not lining up and the lack of focus on Prince George’s right hand, both suggesting photo manipulation. (Read that story here.)

March 10, 6 p.m. Updated to include the agencies pulling the Mother’s Day photo.

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