Another Kate Middleton sighting? Unedited pics or it didn't happen


Catherine, Princess of Wales, is said to be out and about again for the first time since December, making a casual public appearance after weeks of speculation about her well-being — not to mention less than a week after Kensington Palace’s instantly infamous proof-of-life photo fail.

The former Kate Middleton was reportedly spotted Saturday near her home in Windsor, according to the Sun. The British princess visited the Windsor Farm Shop, which is about a mile from her Adelaide Cottage home, and onlookers said she looked “happy, relaxed and healthy.”

Prince William, the heir to the British throne, joined her for the shopping trip but their three children — with whom they reportedly spent the morning — did not, the tabloid said. No photos or videos of the outing accompanied the Sun story, further fueling viral suppositions about the future queen.

Kensington Palace and the Windsor Farm Shop have not commented on the outing.

If authentic, the purported Saturday jaunt marked the first time that she was spotted in a public space since her Jan. 16 abdominal surgery and corresponding recovery that have resulted in Kate’s retreat from public duties until Easter. But in the weeks since Kensington Palace’s mid-January announcement, conjecture has filled the void of her absence, giving way to the Case of the “Disappearing” Princess and a fringe internet obsession that has evolved into a bona-fide international incident.

Although Kensington Palace has said that the princess wishes to keep her personal medical information private, the lack of transparency and increased opacity with which the monarchy has handled her illness in the face of conspiracy theories has created more headaches for the embattled institution. The silence has drawn damning comparisons to scandals that entangled William’s mother, Princess Diana, and his sister-in-law, the former Meghan Markle.

“They’ve forced a recounting of all the times the royal family and the palace press have covered up, often with outright lies, scandal, indiscretion and health scares,” wrote Times culture critic Mary McNamara last week. “Whoever is running Kate’s information campaign is making it far too easy for us to remember Princess Diana’s eating disorders, mental health issues and instances of self-harm, not to mention Meghan Markle’s description of suicidal ideation.”

Catherine had reportedly been “spotted” twice since her hospitalization, apparently photographed riding in vehicles around her home. But even doubt has been cast on those alleged sightings given the tenuous details about her condition and the dearth of appearances since.

The doubt was further compounded last week when the palace released a doctored image of Catherine and a questionable apology attributed to the mother of three for “any confusion” her amateurishly edited image caused.

The image manipulations were so flagrant that news agencies including the Associated Press, AFP, Reuters, Getty Images and Britain’s PA had to withdraw it from circulation or issue “kill” notices.

And Instagram, where the Waleses originally posted the photo and where it remains , also slapped an “altered photo” disclaimer on the March 10 post that said, “Independent fact-checkers say the photo or image has been edited in a way that could mislead people, but not because it was shown out of context.” (Yes, that’s the same Instagram that also readily provides filters and other photo and video editing tools to anyone with an account.) X, formerly Twitter, also posted a disclaimer on the Prince and Princess of Wales’ official account that said that the image is “believed to be digitally altered.”

Goff Photos, which snapped several images March 11 of Kate allegedly in the backseat of a car with William, has since confirmed that its photos had been “cropped and lightened” but that “nothing has been doctored.”

Prominent celebrities piled on, and a notable two — Kim Kardashian and Blake Lively — were criticized for their “bad taste” spoofs.

“On my way to go find Kate,” the “Kardashians” star wrote Sunday, captioning an image of herself next to a vehicle. (Incidentally, the reality stars and beauty moguls have repeatedly been called out by fans for regularly touching up their photos and cited in stories about Kate’s editing blunder.)

“I’m so excited to share this new photo I just took today to announce our 4 new @bettybuzz & @bettybooze products! Now you know why I’ve been MIA,” Lively wrote Friday, posting a promo image of herself and her beverage line that had clearly been altered.

Although some followers found their current event-timed snark humorous, others called them out for propagating rumors or “bullying another woman.”

“Kim imagine being trolled and made fun of after you got robbed in Paris? Girl take this insensitive post down 😮,” a user commented on Kardashian’s post.

“Very disappointed you jumped on the ‘let’s make fun of Kate’ dogpile,” another user commented on Lively’s post. Neither star has issued an apology or removed their posts.





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