Advertisement

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

Kate Middleton wears a bright blue blazer and fascinator as she looks out in front of a large door
Catherine, Princess of Wales, is said to be out and about again for the first time since December, making a casual public appearance after weeks of speculation about her well-being. (Phil Noble / Associated Press)

Catherine, Princess of Wales, is said to be out and about again for the first time since December, making a casual public appearance after weeks of speculation about her well-being — not to mention less than a week after Kensington Palace's instantly infamous proof-of-life photo fail.

The former Kate Middleton was reportedly spotted Saturday near her home in Windsor, according to a Sunday report in the Sun. The British princess visited the Windsor Farm Shop, which is about a mile from her Adelaide Cottage home, and onlookers said she looked "happy, relaxed and healthy."

Read more: Doctored photo of Kate Middleton is credibility blow for royal family in crisis

Prince William, the heir to the British throne, joined her for the shopping trip but their three children — with whom they reportedly spent the morning — did not, the tabloid said. No photos or videos of the outing initially accompanied the Sun story, further fueling viral suppositions about the future queen.



Neither Kensington Palace nor the Windsor Farm Shop commented on the outing.

However, by Monday afternoon, the Sun, TMZ and other tabloids had published photos and a video of the purported Saturday jaunt, backing up the initial reporting. TMZ reported that it's "100% her" in the visuals and published the video's metadata on its website, as well as a few quotes from an eyewitness who reportedly shot the footage. The video showed the princess walking at a brisk pace with a strong gait, smiling and looking relaxed — despite the crushing rumors that have swirled around her, the royal couple and the monarchy as a whole.

The shopping trip marked the first time that the princess had been spotted in public since her Jan. 16 abdominal surgery and subsequent recovery, which have resulted in Kate's retreat from public duties until Easter.In the weeks since Kensington Palace's mid-January announcement of her surgery, conjecture has filled the void in her absence, giving way to the Case of the "Disappearing" Princess and a fringe internet obsession that evolved into a bona fide international incident.

Read more: What the frenzy over Kate Middleton’s ‘disappearance’ says about the royals — and us

Although Kensington Palace has said that the princess wishes to keep her personal medical information private, the lack of transparency and increased opacity with which the monarchy has handled her illness in the face of conspiracy theories has created more headaches for the embattled institution. The silence has drawn damning comparisons to scandals that entangled William's mother, Princess Diana, and his sister-in-law, the former Meghan Markle.

"They've forced a recounting of all the times the royal family and the palace press have covered up, often with outright lies, scandal, indiscretion and health scares," wrote Times culture critic Mary McNamara last week. "Whoever is running Kate’s information campaign is making it far too easy for us to remember Princess Diana’s eating disorders, mental health issues and instances of self-harm, not to mention Meghan Markle’s description of suicidal ideation."

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

Catherine had reportedly been "spotted" twice since her hospitalization, apparently photographed riding in vehicles around her home. But even doubt has been cast on those alleged sightings given the tenuous details about her condition and the dearth of appearances since.

The doubt was further compounded last week when the palace released a doctored image of Catherine and a questionable apology attributed to the mother of three for "any confusion" her amateurishly edited image caused.

The image manipulations were so flagrant that news agencies including the Associated Press, AFP, Reuters, Getty Images and Britain's PA had to withdraw it from circulation or issue "kill" notices.

And Instagram, where the Waleses originally posted the photo and where it remains , also slapped an "altered photo" disclaimer on the March 10 post that said, "Independent fact-checkers say the photo or image has been edited in a way that could mislead people, but not because it was shown out of context." (Yes, that's the same Instagram that also readily provides filters and other photo and video editing tools to anyone with an account.) X, formerly Twitter, also posted a disclaimer on the Prince and Princess of Wales' official account that said that the image is "believed to be digitally altered."

Goff Photos, which snapped several images March 11 of Kate allegedly in the backseat of a car with William, has since confirmed that its photos had been "cropped and lightened" but that "nothing has been doctored."

Read more: Letters to the Editor: Where's Waldo — er, Kate Middleton? The royals missed a golden opportunity

Prominent celebrities piled on, and a notable two — Kim Kardashian and Blake Lively — were criticized for their "bad taste" spoofs.

"On my way to go find Kate," the "Kardashians" star wrote Sunday, captioning an image of herself next to a vehicle. (Incidentally, the reality stars and beauty moguls have repeatedly been called out by fans for regularly touching up their photos and cited in stories about Kate's editing blunder.)

"I’m so excited to share this new photo I just took today to announce our 4 new @bettybuzz & @bettybooze products! Now you know why I’ve been MIA," Lively wrote Friday, posting a promo image of herself and her beverage line that had clearly been altered.

Although some followers found their current event-timed snark humorous, others called them out for propagating rumors or "bullying another woman."

"Kim imagine being trolled and made fun of after you got robbed in Paris? Girl take this insensitive post down 😮," a user commented on Kardashian's post.

"Very disappointed you jumped on the 'let’s make fun of Kate' dogpile," another user commented on Lively's post. Neither star has issued an apology or removed their posts.

Get notified when the biggest stories in Hollywood, culture and entertainment go live. Sign up for L.A. Times entertainment alerts.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.