“There’s No Way” the Kate and William Car Photo Was Manipulated, Says Photo Agency That Sold It

In the wake of Princess Kate’s Mother’s Day portrait scandal, a new photo conspiracy is sparking breathless speculation on the internet. Online sleuths have been analyzing (and overanalyzing) a picture of Prince William and Kate leaving Windsor in the backseat of a black Range Rover on Monday. The prince was en route to a Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey; the princess was reportedly heading to a private appointment. Users on the X platform pointed out that Kate’s head was turned away from the camera, obscuring a clear view of her face, and speculated that the shade of the brick mortar seen through the windows did not seem to match the bricks on top of the horizon line outside the car.

In a phone interview with Vanity Fair, Ken Goff, who owns Goff Photos, the British agency that released the image, emphatically scoffed at the idea the image had been doctored in any way.

“That’s a load of crap,” said Goff, who has been photographing the royal family since 1980. His better known pictures include Princess Diana in Zimbabwe in 1993, and Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, shushing a gaggle of children during Trooping the Colour in 2022. Goff vouched for the two photographers who took the new shot of the Waleses, saying he is “100 percent assured” of their ethics. “There’s no way that those two would have done anything with those photos at all.”

The veteran photographer and member of the Royal Rota went on to refute the conspiracies swirling around the photo, starting with those meticulously examined, seemingly different-colored bricks. According to Goff, the two photographers—whom Goff declined to name—set up in Datchet, a village outside the Wales’ home in Windsor, in hopes of snapping a photo of the Prince of Wales en route to London. Goff told VF the precise intersection where the published photo was taken; a street view on Google Maps clearly shows a red brick and white mortar retaining wall surrounding a darker-brick and red-mortar building. “Why would the photographer change the color of the bricks?” Goff asked, incredulously.

As for Kate being visible only in profile? Goff explained that getting a shot of William’s Range Rover, which whizzed by at an estimated 40 mph, proved challenging enough. “Car shots are often very difficult,” Goff said, given the window reflections, and capturing Kate came as a total surprise to one of the photogs. “It wasn’t until he downloaded the photo on his laptop that he could see that someone else was in the car,” Goff said. The photographers had no difficulty discerning that person’s identity. “It’s Catherine,” Goff told VF. “Just from the outline of her face, you know it’s Catherine.”

Goff shot down speculation that Kate might have intentionally turned away from the camera, saying the photo was taken on a main street and not near the Wales’ home, Adelaide Cottage, where security officers would have likely warned her about the presence of photographers.

The Princess of Wales has been recovering from abdominal surgery for an unnamed condition since January, but a dearth of appearances or updates have sent royal watchers into a tailspin of wild theories and unfounded rumors. The British press, notoriously sensitive to the Crown, did not even publish a similar paparazzi picture of Kate and her mother, Carole Middleton, out of respect. Goff said he considers himself a royalist, and agreed with that decision. “I wouldn’t have touched that,” he said, adding that those at the palace “were really upset” about the picture of Kate and her mother.

Asked whether recent pictures of Kate exist that haven’t been released to the public, “There have been no photographs taken to my knowledge, and I talk to different people,” said Goff. “There’s no rumors or anything, if someone’s got a set of pictures.”

The photo frenzy around Kate had already seemed to reach a saturation point over the weekend when the princess posted a portrait, purportedly taken by William, of her with Princes George and Louis, and Princess Charlotte on British Mother’s Day. Several international wire agencies removed the image, which Kensington Palace had distributed in addition to the social post, saying it had been “manipulated.” The Associated Press, which declined to discuss details with VF, and Reuters pointed to “inconsistencies” in the alignment of Charlotte’s cardigan sleeve with her left hand. Kate apologized via an Instagram statement “for any confusion” the shared family picture may have caused. The palace eventually announced it would not be distributing the unedited photograph.

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