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The royal photoshop controversy that went viral before Princess Kate's Mother's Day picture

The Spanish royal family sparked debate in 2005

Kate Middleton wearing blue blazer for prison visit
Danielle Stacey
Online Royal CorrespondentLondon
Updated: 13 March 2024
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The Mother's Day photograph of the Princess of Wales and her three children sparked controversy, with Kate publicly apologising a day later for the "confusion" the image caused as she admitted to experimenting with editing.

But it isn't the first time a royal photograph has made headlines following Photoshop alterations.

In 2005, the Spanish royal palace was forced to admit that a Christmas card photo of King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia with their grandchildren had been digitally put together.

The resurfaced image shows the couple sitting on a red sofa, with Queen Sofia holding newborn Princess Leonor. Sitting in front of the king and queen are Felipe, Victoria Eugenia, Miguel, Juan holding his sister Irene and Pablo.

But it caused some embarrassment for the Spanish royals as it was spotted that Juan Carlos' right leg had been edited out of the photograph.

A spokesperson for the palace was then forced to admit at the time: "It is not a photograph of an official event - it is merely a compilation used as a Christmas greeting."

The Spanish royal family Christmas photo 2005© Getty
The Spanish royal palace were forced to admit that the Christmas card image was altered

Portraits of the then Crown Prince Felipe dressed in the uniforms of three different military uniforms sparked a row within the Spanish media that the same headshot of the royal had been used and superimposed for every shot. A spokesperson from the palace at the time reiterated that the photographs were authentic.

Prince Felipe in military uniform© Getty
Portraits of Felipe in military uniform in 2010 also caused controversy

The Princess of Wales issued a statement on social media on Monday after various news agencies pulled the portrait of Kate with Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, amid fears it had been "manipulated".

Kate 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."

princess kate surrounded by children in windsor © Kensington Palace
The Mother's Day photo of Kate with her children

The Princess of Wales, who hasn’t been seen at a public engagement since Christmas, is currently recovering from undergoing abdominal surgery in January and is not expected to return to her royal duties until after Easter.

Last month, Kensington Palace brushed off speculation surrounding Kate's health following wild conspiracy theories on social media.

A spokesperson said: "We were very clear from the outset that the Princess of Wales was out until after Easter and Kensington Palace would only be providing updates when something was significant."

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