Kate Middleton Doctored Photo: AFP Says Kensington Palace No Longer A “Trusted Source” & Kill Notices Usually Reserved For North Korea

One of the world’s biggest news agencies has claimed that Kensington Palace is no longer a “trusted source” after the furor over Kate Middleton’s doctored Mother’s Day image.

Phil Chetwynd, global news director of Agence France-Presse (AFP), told BBC Radio 4’s Media Show that the agency has reviewed its relationship with the Prince and Princess of Wales and will rigorously inspect future picture handouts from the royals.

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Such a statement would have been unthinkable just a few days ago, but Chetwynd said the image raised “major issues” for AFP. He admitted that the agency should never have verified its use because it “violated our guidelines.”

Middleton has apologized for “confusion” over the photo, which she attributed to an “experiment with editing.” Kensington Palace has not commented further and has declined to publish the original image, which was purportedly taken by Prince William this year.

The photo was principally shared to mark Mother’s Day in the UK, but it is broadly accepted that the image served a dual purpose of addressing wild social media speculation about Middleton’s health and whereabouts following her abdominal surgery in January.

Asked by Media Show presenter Ros Atkins if Kensington Palace is a trusted source, Chetwynd replied: “No, absolutely not. Like with anything, when you’re let down by a source the bar is raised … We sent out notes to all our teams at the moment to be absolutely super more vigilant about the content coming across our desk — even from what we would call trusted sources.”

Chetwynd revealed that the major news agencies, including Associated Press and Reuters, spoke before issuing notices to “kill” the picture on Sunday. He said Kensington Palace was asked if it would provide the original, but the agencies did not receive a reply and the image was pulled.

Chetwynd said it is unusual for media agencies to demand that photos be taken out of circulation. “To kill something on the basis of manipulation [is rare. We do it] once a year maybe, I hope less. The previous kills we’ve had have been from the North Korean news agency or the Iranian news agency,” he explained.

Chetwynd added: “One thing that’s really important is you cannot be distorting reality for the public. There’s a question of trust. And the big issue here is one of trust, and the lack of trust and the falling trust of the general public in institutions generally and in the media. And so it’s extremely important that a photo does represent broadly the reality that it’s seen in.”

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