Kate Middleton Health Rumors Continue Despite Video Footage as Second Image Is Deemed Altered

An apparently happy and healthy-looking Kate Middleton was seen walking alongside her husband, Prince William, near Windsor Castle in video footage reportedly shot over the weekend. The video is helping to dispel one of this year’s most enduring conspiracy theories regarding her health and whereabouts while recovering from abdominal surgery — though skepticism still abounds, as the Palace has yet to verify or comment on the video. And now speculation around the royal has moved to a second image she shared in 2022 that on Tuesday was deemed to have been altered.

The video was shot on Saturday about a mile outside of Windsor, England, and has been verified by TMZ, which posted the clip online on Monday. The Middleton sighting had initially been reported over the weekend, without the footage, and the new clip seemingly verifies those reports; TMZ stated that it verified that footage metadata. Middleton is seen in good spirits, smiling and casually shopping with William at the Windsor Farm Shop near the couple’s Adelaide Cottage home.

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“Kate was out shopping with William and she looked happy and she looked well,” an unnamed eyewitness told U.K. tabloid The Sun. “The kids weren’t with them but it’s such a good sign she was healthy enough to pop down to the shops.”

The red-top paper reports that Middleton, who had not been seen publicly since Christmas, spent part of Saturday morning watching their three children George, Charlotte and Louis play sports.

Rumors and conspiracy theories about Middleton’s whereabouts amid her recovery from a Jan. 17 surgery grew as users on TikTok and other social media platforms questioned the official word coming from Kensington Palace. Speculation zeroed in on the vagueness around the nature of the Princess of Wales’ scheduled but announced-at-the-last-minute abdominal surgery; the planned length of her recovery, which included 10 days in The London Clinic followed by home rest, which the palace announced would keep her from royal duties until Easter; and Prince William’s late February cancellation of a scheduled appearance at a Windsor Castle memorial service for his godfather.

Kensington Palace had announced that the princess was discharged from the London Clinic on Jan. 29 and was doing well. As speculation ballooned, on Feb. 29, palace officials felt compelled to repeat that news on her health would come if there was anything significant to be said. But that did little to quell the growing speculation around Middleton, and the next evidence to emerge — a grainy image of the princess in a car with her mother — fueled the fire.

“The strangest thing about it is that Kate is so punctilious about her own image … so the mess of this picture is a curious thing,” royals expert and Daily Beast founder Tina Brown said on CBS Mornings, referring to what she called a “jigsaw” of multiple other images.

Rumors turned to headline news when a not-so-slick attempt to dispel any questions backfired. On March 10, Britain’s Mother’s Day, Kensington Palace shared a photo, purported to have been taken by Prince William, of his smiling family, with Middleton at the center. But photo agencies quickly deemed the picture manipulated and it was yanked from four news wire services. In a rare occurrence, the princess issued a mea culpa for the altered image, which had undergone 17 edits.

“Like many amateur photographers, I do occasionally experiment with editing,” Middleton wrote on the royal couple’s X account, signing it with a “C” for Catherine. “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.”

With this, mainstream media began to follow the lead of social media royal watchers, as both exploded with stories about the couple’s photo snafu and theorists pontificated about not only the health of the princess but that of the future king and queen’s marriage. What did this say about the royals and their control of social media vis-a-vis tabloid news, one New York Times columnist asked, while another saw a double standard between the treatment of Middleton and her sister-in-law, Meghan Markle.

“Katespiracy” rumors came quickly, too, with TikTok users amplifying whispers around Rose Hanbury, a friend in the couple’s inner circle and whose grandmother was one of the bridesmaids at the wedding of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip in 1947. Though she’s been married to David Rocksavage, 7th Marquess of Cholmondeley, since 2009, unsubstantiated rumors about an affair with William have been called an open secret for years. This week, Hanbury said through her attorneys that these rumors are “completely false,” according to Business Insider.

Rose Hanbury, Marchioness of Cholmondeley departs Westminster Abbey after the Coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla on May 06, 2023 in London, England.
Rose Hanbury, Marchioness of Cholmondeley, departing Westminster Abbey after the coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla on May 6, 2023 in London.

While the video footage from the weekend could effectively shut down rumors about Middleton’s health, she now faces renewed scrutiny in the press. On Tuesday, an image she shared in April 2023 was deemed by Getty Images to have been manipulated. The portrait of the late Queen Elizabeth with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, taken by the princess on a trip to Balmoral Castle in Scotland in 2022, was released by Buckingham Palace on what would have been the late monarch’s 97th birthday.

“Getty Images has reviewed the image in question and placed an editor’s note on it, stating that the image has been digitally enhanced at source,” a spokesperson for the wire service told British broadsheet The Telegraph.

Royal officials have not commented on the image, but on Tuesday, Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer repeated the call for respect as Middleton recovers while appearing on British talk radio station LBC.

“She is a remarkable lady and I think we should give her a little bit of privacy,” she said.

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