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Prince William and Princess Kate Spotted Together in a Car Leaving Windsor Castle

 Prince William and Kate Middleton.
Prince William and Kate Middleton.

In their first photo taken together publicly since Christmas Day, the Prince and Princess of Wales were spotted riding in a car together leaving Windsor Castle today, The Daily Mail reports. William was headed to the annual Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey; Kate was reportedly headed to a private appointment.

While it isn’t known exactly where Kate is headed and what said “private appointment” entails, she “appears to be following a similar route into central London,” The Daily Express reports. “Princess Kate was pictured sitting in the backseat of the car and looking out of the window, whereas William was looking ahead.”

After their car ride together, William arrived at Westminster Abbey alongside Queen Camilla for the Commonwealth Day Service. Upon arrival, William was chatting with the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh, Edward and Sophie, and Princess Anne. Kate, as predicted, was not in attendance.

Prince William at the Commonwealth Day Service
Prince William at the Commonwealth Day Service

As Kate looked out the car window, “William appeared to read some notes on his phone as they were swept out of the grounds of Windsor Castle in a blue Range Rover that later dropped William at the Abbey without her,” The Daily Mail reports. (Sorry for those hoping for an unexpected Commonwealth Day Service appearance by Kate.) The outlet continued that “Her surprise appearance came as wild online conspiracy theories swirled around the princess and her health.”

The Prince and Princess of Wales released a photo yesterday of Kate sitting in a chair flanked by her three kids Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis; last night, news agencies like AP, AFP, Reuters, PA, and Getty pulled the photo from its servers citing digital manipulation. This morning, Kate released an unprecedented statement via social media that read “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.” (Yesterday marked the U.K.’s Mother’s Day, whereas the U.S. celebrates in May.) We know the message is from Kate specifically, as it was signed with “C,” signifying that Catherine (the princess’ formal name) wrote it.

Princess Kate apology
Princess Kate apology

A source told People that Kate made what they called “minor adjustments” to the “amateur family photograph taken by the Prince of Wales.” William and Kate’s motivation, likely in the face of speculation and conspiracy theories surrounding Kate’s health, was “to offer an informal picture of the family together for Mother’s Day,” the source added.

It was later revealed that the photo was saved in Adobe Photoshop twice on an Apple Mac on Friday and Saturday. The photo was taken on a Canon 5D Mark IV, which retails for nearly £3,000; a Canon 50mm lens was used, priced at over £1,600. The first save was made at 9:54 p.m. Friday night, and the second was at 9:39 a.m. on Saturday morning. It’s not clear if both saves were on the same device, and the Palace has offered no further clarification on the matter, as it refuses to release the original, unedited photo of the foursome. AP confirmed as much in its kill notice to journalists, writing “At closer inspection it appears that the source [Kensington Palace] has manipulated the image,” it wrote. “No replacement photo will be sent.”

“It’s plausible she’s [Kate] at home playing with the computer and using an AI tool, but if they’re really going to regain any sort of trust, they should release the unedited photo,” public relations expert Mark Borkowski told The Daily Mail. “It can’t be that bad if they just made a few tweaks. I find they have risen to the challenge, provided the statement as an explanation—the question is, with all the conspiracy theories running around, is whether people believe it, and I’m not sure that they will.”

Borkowski said the Mother’s Day photo exposed a public relations problem within the monarchy as a whole: “That’s the issue,” he said. “There doesn’t seem to be that much joined up strategic thinking at the heart of the royal family at the moment, which leads to these problems where it’s a very difficult organization to manage in terms of PR.” He added “It’s a nightmare…They are under pressure, massively under pressure. This is a massive own goal.”

Prince William at the Commonwealth Day Service
Prince William at the Commonwealth Day Service
Prince William at the Commonwealth Day Service
Prince William at the Commonwealth Day Service

It is understood that William took the photo of his family last week at home at Adelaide Cottage in Windsor. Before the brouhaha, it was a good day, a source told People. “The family spent Mother’s Day together and had a wonderful day,” they said.

Is today a wonderful day? Perhaps less likely.