Keep your chin up – Why did the world lose its head over Royal Photogate? Asks Will Guyatt

11 March 2024, 13:21 | Updated: 11 March 2024, 13:22

Keep your chin up – Why did the world lose its head over Royal photogate? Asks Will Guyatt
Keep your chin up – Why did the world lose its head over Royal photogate? Asks Will Guyatt. Picture: LBC/Kensington Palace
Will Guyatt, technology correspondent

By Will Guyatt, technology correspondent

LBC’s Will Guyatt spoke to the world’s media about the royal photo scandal, and wonders where we lost our sense of perspective.

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Come on, I know I’m among friends here – I regularly edit photos on my mobile. It’s quite amazing what you can achieve these days. In seconds, I can shave off a few grey hairs here, smooth out a few crow’s feet there, and even strike out a chin or two, so imagine my surprise when the world lost its collective mind over a slightly doctored royal family photo.

You would have thought Princess Kate had inadvertently created some kind of massive global diplomatic incident over the weekend due to the use of the edit button on her smartphone, but this cock up quickly turned into a conspiracy, due in part of the vacuum of information many royal watchers felt was left as she recovered from the major operation.

Instead – the superfans took to social media, and the speculation grew and grew, with the photo eventually fuelling the very speculation it was expected to end.

After a few quick nips and tucks here and there on the photo, either Kate or Wills sent the image to the press team at Kensington Palace, who either didn’t notice the tweaks or didn’t have the guts to tell a member of the royal family their photo editing skills left a lot to be desired.

Then, all the major photo agencies took the image on face value, not thinking for a second the UK royal family would be sending them a doctored image.

One by one, the photo agencies issued their ominously titled ‘kill notice’ – the guidance to stop their subscribers using an issued photo.

With a rise in fake news and elections taking place in many countries this year, there’s significant pressure on media agencies to not spread fake news or misinformation, and because this image was edited, they were right to remove it.

While none of us have seen the original unedited image, I speak with a high level of confidence that you wouldn’t see a great deal of difference between that and the edited version issued by Kensington Palace – but that still hasn’t stopped social media blowing up with a raft of conspiracy theories placing this on par with the legendary Zapruder film, or the Bigfoot photos of the 1970s.

I’ve laughed off much of what’s been suggested so far. Perhaps the most far-reaching theory to date is that the picture was generated entirely by AI – perhaps a service like Dali or Midjourney.

It’s also been suggested that an archive picture of Kate’s face was superimposed onto a model who has posed with her children.

For some online, an obsession with the royals has caused reality and reasoning to be lost.

After a busy morning of frontpage headlines and lead stories on breakfast shows on radio and TV, Kensington Palace took the usual step of issuing an apology, which I believe is truly and wholeheartedly unnecessary – because her 'crime' was sharing a candid image of her family for vocal group clambering for information.

With a bonkers 24 hours like this – it’s no surprise we’re seeing an increasing information gap from certain areas of the royal family.

Never mind, chin up, and carry on.

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