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Prince William appears in public for first time since Kate Middleton photo row erupted

Prince William has appeared in public for the first time since the royal photo row erupted.

The Prince of Wales is accompanying the Queen and members of the royal family at engagements celebrating Commonwealth Day on Monday, in what is one of the key royal events of the year.

However, it has been overshadowed by a controversy over a Mother’s Day photograph of his wife and their three children, which marked the first official picture of the Princess of Wales since she underwent abdominal surgery in January.

Kate Middleton was forced to apologise for “any confusion” caused and admitted to editing the image after widespread speculation that it had been manipulated, culminating in major news agencies pulling the photo.

She said sorry with a statement on social media, which said: “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.

“I hope everyone celebrating had a very happy Mother’s Day. C.”

Prince William arrives to attend the annual Commonwealth Day Service of Celebration at Westminster Abbey in London (AP)
Prince William arrives to attend the annual Commonwealth Day Service of Celebration at Westminster Abbey in London (AP)

The photo was the first to be issued since the princess’s abdominal surgery and was released by the Palace to mark Mother’s Day on Sunday.

But it was withdrawn with a “Kill” notice by international picture agencies hours later, and the UK’s PA news agency on Monday, because of suspicions it had been altered.

Despite calls for the original to be published, Kensington Palace said it would not be reissuing the unedited photograph of Kate and her children.

The Palace faced growing pressure over the debacle, with the controversy branded “damaging” to the public’s trust in the royal family.

Queen Camilla and Prince William attend an annual Commonwealth Day service ceremony (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Queen Camilla and Prince William attend an annual Commonwealth Day service ceremony (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Kensington Palace confirmed the Princess of Wales left Windsor in a car with the Prince of Wales as William was driven to the Commonwealth Day service in London.

Kate is not attending the service, but is understood to have a private appointment.

At the event Prince William was seen greeting Edward with a friendly pat on the arm and a kiss on both cheeks, before standing in conversation with his aunts and uncle.

As Camilla approached, William was seen to say “hello” to his stepmother before moving forward to kiss her on both cheeks.

(front row left-right) the Duchess of Edinburgh, the Duke of Edinburgh and the Prince of Wales attending the annual Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey (Henry Nicholls/PA Wire)
(front row left-right) the Duchess of Edinburgh, the Duke of Edinburgh and the Prince of Wales attending the annual Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey (Henry Nicholls/PA Wire)

They smiled and chatted as they stood side by side ready for the national anthem to be played.

A Commonwealth Day Reception at Marlborough House will follow.

The King will be absent from the event as he continues to receive treatment for cancer during what has been a challenging start to 2024 for the Windsors.

Protesters from the Republic campaign group holding placards such as “Down with the Crown” are near the event at Westminster Abbey.

Graham Smith, chief executive of Republic, said: “The royals need to stop using the Commonwealth as a vehicle for their own PR.

“The platitudes we hear from Charles and Camilla only serve to paper over serious concerns about human rights abuses and a lack of democracy in many Commonwealth countries.”

Additional reporting by PA