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Kate Middleton described herself as an amateur photographer, but she's been honing her skills for decades

Mikhaila Friel   

Kate Middleton described herself as an amateur photographer, but she's been honing her skills for decades
  • Kate Middleton admitted she edited a Mother's Day photo after news agencies recalled the image.
  • It marked the princess' first statement since she underwent abdominal surgery in January.

Kate Middleton, the Princess of Wales, this week admitted to editing a Mother's Day photo after major news agencies recalled the image.

In a statement posted to Kensington Palace's X account on Monday, Kate said: "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," she added.

It marked the princess' first public statement since she disappeared from the public eye following abdominal surgery in January. It did little to quell the growing conspiracy theories, and social media users continue to question if there is more to the story around her absence.

One major issue with Kate's statement is yet to be addressed: She isn't a professional photographer, but she certainly is not an amateur either. She's been honing her skills for decades.

Her description of herself as an amateur photographer could very well be down to the British trait of modesty, but people aren't convinced.

"While Kate might feel comfortable describing herself as an amateur, her résumé suggests she has far more professional experience than the typical amateur," Kristen Meinzer, a royal commentator and podcast host, told Business Insider.

Kensington Palace did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Kate majorly downplayed her photography skills

The photo, said to be taken by Prince William, showed Kate with her children, Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis.

Major news agencies including the Associated Press, Reuters, and Agence France-Presse, swiftly removed the image after concerns it was manipulated.

Meinzer told BI that Kate's statement in response to the removal was confusing because it doesn't address the fact that the photo was taken by Prince William and distributed by the couple's Kensington Palace press team.

"Why does William get to sit out the apology, while Kate is presented as the bad guy?" Meinzer said.

Even if Kate was solely responsible for editing the photo, her defense that she is an "amateur" photographer doesn't make sense given her past experience, Meinzer said.

Kate became the first royal mom to take official photos of her children after her daughter, Charlotte, was born in 2015. The palace typically uses Kate's photos instead of hiring a royal photographer to mark major occasions and milestones, such as birthdays.

Claudia Acott Williams, curator at Historic Royal Palaces, told the Daily Express that Kate picked up the hobby as a child and was taught by her grandfather.

Meinzer pointed out that Kate's photography skills were known long before she married William.

"Is Kate really an 'amateur?' In the forward for the 2018 National Portrait Gallery exhibition called Victorian Giants: The Birth of Art Photography, she described how her undergraduate thesis focused on photography," Meinzer said.

"She was also in the St. Andrews University photography club. While working for her parents' party supply company, Party Pieces, she was charged with photographing stock for the website and catalog, as well as design and marketing duties," she added.

The Daily Mail reported in 2007 that Kate considered quitting her job as an accessories buyer at Jigsaw to pursue photography full-time. In 2009, the same outlet reported that Kate would receive training from Count Nikolai von Bismarck, a photographer who was said to be good friends with William and Prince Harry.

In 2019, she became a patron of the Royal Photographic Society, which is one of the world's oldest photo societies.

"The Duchess has a longstanding interest in photography, and this patronage will further highlight the beneficial impact that art and creativity can have on emotional wellbeing, particularly for children and young people," a spokesperson for Kate said in a statement at the time.

Some of the princess' most recent projects have involved her love of photography. She curated the photography book, "Hold Still: A Portrait of our Nation in 2020," which showcased images of the UK's lockdown during the pandemic.

In 2021, Kate's photos of holocaust survivors were displayed in an exhibition in London's Imperial War Museums, and in 2022, some of the princess' photos of her children were displayed in a Kensington Palace exhibition that explored the royal family's relationship with the camera.

Also in 2022, Kate photographed Queen Camilla for the cover of Country Life magazine's 125th-anniversary edition.

Royal photographers have also praised Kate's work. Speaking to BI in 2020, royal photographer Samir Hussein said Kate takes photos that "any professional would be very happy with."

Hussein declined to comment when contacted by BI about Kate's photo being recalled.

The royal family's future is murky

At the time of writing on Tuesday, the situation remains murky. It's unclear why Kate seemingly downplayed her photography skills, or whether she will make another statement addressing the speculation.

Jack Royston, a royal commentator and podcast host, previously told Business Insider that the scrutiny likely won't stop until Kate releases the original, unedited version of the photo.

"The only way out now is to either publish the original image or release a video of Kate talking to the camera; otherwise, the palace's reputation as a trustworthy source of information will lie in ruins," Royston said.

Kate's statement comes during a crisis period after King Charles announced his cancer diagnosis in January.

"For people who want to rant and rave about Harry and Meghan, this is significantly worse than the Oprah interview and 'Spare,'" Royston previously told BI, referencing the title of Prince Harry's 2023 memoir.

"Nothing puts things in perspective more than the word cancer," he added.

Calls for the abolishment of the monarchy have ramped up in recent years, and the growing mistrust between the palace and the public isn't helping the situation.

According to the latest Sovereign Grant report, the royal family cost British taxpayers £86.3 million, or about $110.5 million, during the 2022-23 financial year.

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