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British monarchy rocked by bad Photoshop job

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After months of speculation on the whereabouts of Kate Middleton, the Princess of Wales and future Queen of England, the Royal Family released an image today that appears to have been edited. It’s so edited Associated Press and Reuters issued rare kill notifications for it. It’s so edited that I, an extremely amateur image editor, can see how bad the job is.

It is incredible in its ineptitude. If the goal was to reassure the public about Middleton’s whereabouts, the image has backfired spectacularly. The AP said “the source has manipulated the image” and sent a kill notice; the AFP followed suit.

The image is unsettling at first glance. Everyone is smiling so brightly they look like a Snapchat filter. Middleton is seated in the image—understandable given she had some sort of undisclosed abdominal procedure in January, but the perspective seems wrong. Are her arms really that long? The more you stare at the image the more you feel like you’re reading Highlights in the waiting room of your dentist. Can you find every problem in the picture?

This image was released months after Middleton disappeared from public view. The Royal Family has been cagey about her health and what has led to her absence leading to conspiracy theories. Dropping a clearly edited image of her on Mother’s Day in the UK isn’t going to help matters.

And for the British monarchy, image is everything, as revealed in Spare, the memoir by Prince Harry. In it, Middleton’s brother-in-law writes about how he was sacrificed to the British tabloids to distract from stories that might have made his father (King Charles) or his brother (Prince William, heir apparent) look bad. The art of image management is key for the royal family, and has been since Queen Elizabeth’s coronation was broadcast live. An important part of the royals’ jobs is appearing in photos.

The Middleton photo raises some questions. It’s possible this is just a case of shitty Photoshop used to stitch together several photos so that the best expression on each person’s face was used. (Children are notorious for being difficult to photograph.) But the job is so clumsy, particularly around the hands and arms area, that one wonders if the intent was to keep us all talking about Middleton’s prolonged absence.



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