Kate Middleton, the Princess of Wales, needs to brush up on her Photoshop skills, apparently.

Over the weekend, the royal family released the first image of Middleton since her abdominal surgery in January. As the photo of her and her three smiling children started to circulate online, the Associated Press and other wire services issued an urgent notification to journalists not to use the image in editorial articles, suspecting the photo might be digitally altered.

Zooming in and examining the royal photo closely, it’s easy to see edges on the children’s sweaters and other inconsistent details, particularly in the area around Princess Charlotte’s hand, that appear to be manipulated via photo-editing software. For example, portions of Middleton’s hair appear to have an unnatural texture, and the zipper on her jacket leads to nowhere.

Middleton admitted altering the photo, taken by Prince William, in a Monday post on the couple’s X account, expressing “apologies for any confusion the family photograph” caused. What she didn’t cop to was how she edited the photo, what tools she used. That sin of omission has given online sleuths room to continue speculating about the bizarre circumstances around the image. Some theorized that the image had been generated by artificial intelligence; one viral tweet suggested Middleton’s face was lifted from an old Vogue cover. Odds are, though, that the image was just a poorly executed Photoshop job. For those who use the tool regularly, the tells are obvious.

Kate Middleton’s disappearing zipper is a sign that Photoshop may have been used to edit the image.


“My guess is that the errors are coming from the stamp tool,” says WIRED design director Alyssa Walker. “It fuses the image together by pulling another part of the image.” When used haphazardly, this type of content stamp tool could easily introduce errors to an image, like the edges of clothing appearing to be cut off at random with poorly defined outlines.

By Oscar M

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