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Kate 'needs to be here': Prince William after alleged video of her first appearance since surgery

UK newspaper The Sun released footage showing Princess Kate Middleton carrying shopping bags alongside her husband in the streets near her home. However, several netizens have speculated that the woman in the video is not Kate, but Kensington Palace has not denied that the video is not genuine.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee London Published on: March 20, 2024 10:21 IST
UK, Kate Middleton, Prince William, rumours, surgery
Image Source : AP (FILE) Prince William with his wife Kate Middleton, the Princess of Wales

London: Amid the 'Kate Gate' controversy engulfing the British Royal Family, Prince William said his wife Kate Middleton "needs to be sat here" during a visit to northern England on Tuesday, a day after the footage of the couple emerged since Kate's abdominal surgery two months ago, apparently showing her in a fit and healthy condition. Kate has been at the centre of several rumours and conspiracy theories due to her absence from royal duties.

On Monday, a purported video published by the Sun newspaper on its website showed the smiling Princess of Wales walking and carrying shopping bags alongside her husband William, the heir to the throne, at a farm shop in Windsor near their home. It was the first footage of Kate taken since Christmas Day, although social media is abuzz with speculation that the woman seen in the video is not Kate.

Kensington Palace has not denied that the video is genuine, but has declined to comment on a matter it regards as being the royals' private time. "If that video of Catherine sort of walking quite briskly with a shopping bag doesn't put an end to this frankly wild and baseless speculation, then I'm not sure what will," said Katie Nicholl, royal author and correspondent at Vanity Fair magazine.

My wife's territory: Prince William

On Tuesday, William visited Sheffield in northern England to unveil new investment in his scheme to tackle homelessness, one of his main campaigning themes. He laughed and joked with staff and volunteers, and later referred to Kate during discussions about homelessness and early childhood, one of his wife's key projects.

"We're venturing into my wife's territory. She needs to be sat here to hear this," he said. He made no reference to the ongoing speculation about his wife, although he had been forced to postpone some public engagements since his wife was hospitalised along with his father King Charles for an unspecified form of cancer.

Such has been the febrile gossip about the royals that the British embassies in Ukraine and Moscow even posted statements on X on Monday to clarify that fabricated reports on social media that the king had died were indeed fake. While the online world remains awash with rumour, outside the palace, passers-by said Kate and Charles should be allowed to recover in peace.

Where is Kate Middleton?

Kate, 42, spent two weeks at the London Clinic in January after having a planned abdominal surgery, which her office said was successful, for a non-cancerous but unspecified condition. Other than a couple of blurry pictures, she has not been seen in public since appearing with the other members of the royal family on Christmas Day.

She is not expected to return to official duties until after Easter which falls on March 31, it said. Kensington Palace had said after the surgery that the Princess of Wales was “making good progress” and that it would not be offering any regular commentary on a private medical matter. However, that has led to online rumours, and Kate's apology this month for editing a photo taken by William of her and her three children to mark Mother's Day sparked further intrigue when she had to apologise.

"A lot of people out there didn't seem to want to believe that the simple truth of the matter was that she was at home recuperating from a clearly serious abdominal surgery," Nicholl told Reuters. The Sun said it has chosen to both report her appearance in its Sunday's edition and show the footage on Monday in a bid to bring an end to what palace sources have called the "madness of social media.”

Meanwhile, former cricketer Kevin Pietersen came in defence of the royal couple, claiming he and his wife see William and Kate "most days" and that they are the "most wonderful parents and as normal/humble as they come". In a post on X, he said, "The conspiracy theories around Kate are absolutely absurd! We see W&K most days and in the last couple days too! It beggars belief that people would be so ridiculous and cruel in writing BULLSHIT on this platform that are out and out lies!"

"W&K are the most wonderful parents and as normal/humble as they come. Let K who is recovering from an operation recover. Leave her and her beautiful family alone!!!!" further said the cricketer on the platform.

Another edited photograph

Meanwhile, after Kate was forced to apologise for the “confusion” over her picture with her three children, Reuters confirmed that another picture taken by the Princess of Wales and uploaded by the Kensington Palace last year was edited in at least eight places. The photo was released in April last year showing the late Queen Elizabeth with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Earlier on Tuesday, Getty Images flagged to its clients that the Balmoral picture had been "digitally enhanced at source," without giving further details. "Getty Images is undertaking a review of handout images and in accordance with its editorial policy is placing an editor's note on images where the source has suggested they could be digitally enhanced," a spokesperson said.

"Reuters is updating its procedures related to vetting images from Kensington Palace after confirming a second altered photograph. Consistent with the Thomson Reuters Trust Principles, Reuters requires that photos meet its editorial standards for image quality, accuracy and reliability," said a Reuters spokesperson.

Kate's Mother's Day image was earlier withdrawn with a “Kill” notice by international picture agencies and the UK’s PA news agency over fears it had been edited, and Kate is reported by the newspaper to have been left "devastated" over the media furore generated by the picture. 

"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," she later said on X. Since the photo released by Kensington Palace was found to be edited, it has caused a frenzy about her health and even inspired conspiracy theories about the royal couple's relationship.

(with inputs from Reuters)

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