Second British royal photograph involving Kate was digitally altered, Reuters says

Britain's late Queen Elizabeth II and family

LONDON (Reuters) - A second royal photograph issued to the media by Kensington Palace, the office of Prince William and his wife Kate, was digitally altered in eight places, Reuters said on Tuesday after an analysis of the picture by the news organisation's photo editors.

The picture, released in April last year to mark what would have been the 97th birthday of the late Queen Elizabeth, showed the former monarch surrounded by some of her grandchildren and great grandchildren.

It had been taken by Kate, 42, at the Scottish royal residence Balmoral Castle the previous summer, Kensington Palace said at the time.

Earlier on Tuesday, Getty Images flagged to its clients that the Balmoral picture had been "digitally enhanced at source," without giving further details.

"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," a spokesperson said.

While Getty, Reuters and other news organisations did not at the time spot any issues with the handout, the examination of the photograph by Reuters photo editors has found that there were eight places where the picture had been clearly altered by digital cloning. Reuters could not immediately establish why the alterations were made.

Digital cloning involves copying pixels to either move or mask objects or areas in a photo.

Kensington Palace has declined to comment on the photograph.

A Reuters spokesperson said: "Reuters is updating its procedures related to vetting images from Kensington Palace after confirming a second altered photograph. Consistent with the Thomson Reuters Trust Principles, Reuters requires that photos meet its editorial standards for image quality, accuracy and reliability."

Earlier this month, Reuters and several other leading news organisations withdrew a photograph of Kate with her three children which was issued by the palace to mark Mother's Day after post-publication analysis showed it did not meet their editorial standards.

The following day, Kate issued an apology for any confusion.

"Like many amateur photographers, I do occasionally experiment with editing," she said in a statement on X. "I wanted to express my apologies for any confusion the family photograph we shared yesterday caused."

The issue with the edited photographs comes amid widespread speculation on social media about Kate's health since she underwent abdominal surgery in January.

On Monday, she appeared in footage for the first time since her operation in a video posted by the Sun newspaper.

(Reporting by Reuters London newsroom, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien)