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Kate's portrait of queen and great-grandkids was 'digitally enhanced,' Getty Images says

Catherine, Princess of Wales, claps in the stands at a soccer game
Getty Images announced Monday that another photo posted by Catherine, the Princess of Wales, was manipulated, and the photo agency will be "undertaking a review of handout images." (John Sibley / Associated Press)

Catherine's amateur photographer skills are being further scrutinized in the wake of her Mother's Day portrait debacle. Now, another photo she shot is being called into question and it's apparently prompting Getty Images to review its handout photo policy.

On Monday, Getty Images released a statement saying that a photo of Queen Elizabeth II and 10 of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren — said to be shot by the Princess of Wales — was "digitally enhanced."

Read more: Another Kate Middleton sighting? Unedited pics or it didn't happen

The image, posted in April 2023 on the Instagram account Catherine shares with William on what would have been Elizabeth's 97th birthday, featured the queen seated on a sofa and flanked by her heirs. The photo was said to have been taken at her Balmoral estate in Scotland in summer 2022.

"Getty Images has reviewed the image in question and placed an editor’s note on it, stating that the image has been digitally enhanced at source,” a spokesperson for the agency told the Telegraph.

The Telegraph also noted "several inconsistencies" within the image, including a mismatched pattern on a portion of the queen's skirt, issues with one girl's hair and five others.

In a separate statement to The Times, a spokesperson for the photo agency said: "Getty Images is undertaking a review of handout images and in accordance with its editorial policy is placing an editor’s note on images where the source has suggested they could be digitally enhanced."

It's unclear whether Getty Images would be reviewing all handout photos or only those provided by the palace. The agency's spokesperson declined to comment further.

A spokesperson for Kensington Palace did not immediately respond Tuesday to The Times' request for comment.

Read more: Opinion: Kate Middleton messed up. But the royal family has bigger problems than one photo

The Getty Images statement is the latest development in pop culture's so-called Kate-Gate and the Case of the "Disappearing" Princess. Speculation about the 42-year-old royal's health and whereabouts has mounted since Kensington Palace announced in mid-January that Catherine had undergone a planned abdominal surgery and would not return to royal duties until after Easter. Coupled with the announcement of King Charles III's prostate procedure and unprecedented cancer disclosure, the internet has been rife with rumors.

Instead of transparent updates about Kate's health calls for proof of life, conspiracy theories and wild conjecture have enveloped the princess, her husband, Prince William, and the British royal family.

A flashpoint came last week with the revelation that the palace had shared an amateurishly edited photo of Catherine and her three children to mark Mother's Day in the U.K. That prompted at least five international photo and news agencies, including Getty Images and the Associated Press, to issue retractions and "kill" notices on the doctored image. (Instagram, where the Waleses originally posted the photo and where it remains, also slapped an “altered photo” disclaimer on the March 10 post, and X, formerly Twitter, followed suit.)

Read more: As with Diana and Meghan, palace missteps in Kate Middleton saga spark a royal crisis

The palace ultimately issued an apology attributed to "C" for the "confusion" the image caused, but royal watchers weren't buying that either. Instead of quieting gossip swirling around the princess, the royal blunder further contributed to wild theories about her well-being and cast more doubt on the reliability of the palace as a source and the existence of the monarchy as a whole.

On Saturday, Catherine was spotted in public for the first time since December, taking a casual shopping trip about a mile from her Adelaide Cottage home, the Sun reported. Absent photo and video, the sighting was immediately called into question too — as was the footage of her jaunt when it eventually arrived on Monday.

Skepticism was so prevalent that a woman who many believed to be impersonating the princess had to issue a statement denying that she posed as Catherine in the visuals.

“There has obviously been some speculation about whether it was Kate and William in that footage and stills,” professional impersonator Heidi Agan told the Mirror in an article published Tuesday. "In fact, my own social media has gone crazy as people think it is me, but I know it is not.”

Agan, who bills herself as the "UK's most realistic Kate Middleton lookalike" on social media, added that she was "at work at the time" the video was shot, but was not the person walking alongside the future king in the clip.

"I know that is not me. I 100% believe that is Kate Middleton and William in that video,” she said, adding that the rumors have "gone too far now."

"It started as a joke about where is Kate, but now it has turned into a drama really, so it needs to stop," Agan said.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.