What the Metadata on the Kate Middleton Photo Reveals About the Edits Made

kate middleton and prince william
What the Metadata on the Kate Photo RevealsLeon Neal - Getty Images
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On Sunday, Kensington Palace released a photo of Kate Middleton smiling with her children to celebrate UK Mother's Day, unaware they were about to set off a major international news story.

Within hours, the portrait had been recalled by photo agencies over concerns around digital manipulation, and the following day, Kate issued a personal apology. Kate's admittance of editing the photograph, which was taken by Prince William, did not do much to quiet conspiracy theorists, and soon, outlets like the BBC and New York Times were analyzing the metadata on the picture to try and understand what happened.

a group of people posing for the camera
The photo released by the Palace on March 10. Prince William / Kensington Palace

Analysis of the photograph's metadata by Sky News revealed that the file was saved twice in Adobe Photoshop, once on Friday, March 8 at 9:54 p.m. GMT, and again on Saturday, March 9, at 9:39 a.m. GMT. The camera used to take the photograph was a Canon 5D mark IV, using a Canon 50mm F1.2 lens. They also found the photograph was taken at Adelaide Cottage, the Wales family's home in Windsor.

So while the metadata reveals that the photo was edited, as Kate said, it does not detail when the photograph was originally taken, or what edits were made. The most obvious error, however, is that Princess Charlotte's sweater sleeve is missing, and the zipper on Kate's jacket disappears. In addition, Kate's right hand is blurry, while Louis's sweater is crystal-clear. The BBC notes that "One possible explanation for some of the glitches would be if several photos were taken and shots were overlaid - perhaps because not all the children were smiling in a single image." But it's unclear if this is the case.

The Telegraph reports, "The digital fingerprint of the Princess of Wales's family photograph suggests that she merged multiple images using Photoshop. Analysis of data embedded in the image indicates that a copy and paste function was used, most likely in the section featuring her face. The method appears to be confirmed by the clear horizontal line stretching across the Princess's chest, albeit not exactly in line," which could suggest that she replaced her face with another image.

In response to Kate's admittance of editing the photograph, CNN reported they are now "reviewing all handout photos previously provided by Kensington Palace." The Palace does not plan to release the unedited photograph.

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