First Official Photo of Princess Catherine Since Surgery Is Released by Royal Palace

First Official Photo of Princess Catherine Since Surgery Is Released by Royal Palace

Update: Questions have been raised about a photo released by Kensington Palace.

Nearly two months after undergoing abdominal surgery, Catherine, the princess of Wales, appeared in an official photograph, released on Sunday by Kensington Palace to mark Mother’s Day in Britain.

Catherine, who posed with her three children, George, Charlotte and Louis, has not been seen in public since before she entered the hospital on Jan. 16, provoking a swirl of increasingly far-fetched rumors on social media about her condition.

The image of a smiling Catherine, surrounded by her family, will most likely quiet what had become an extraordinary distraction for the British royal family, which is also dealing with a cancer diagnosis for King Charles III

But late in the day, The Associated Press issued a “kill order” for the photo and asked its clients to remove it from all platforms, saying it appeared to have been manipulated by the source. The New York Times, which had used the image, removed it.

Kensington Palace, where Catherine and her husband, Prince William, have their offices, did not release any new details on her condition or convalescence. It said the photograph was taken by William this past week in Windsor, where the family lives in Adelaide Cottage, on the grounds of Windsor Castle.

In a post on social media accompanying the photograph, Catherine said, “Thank you for your kind wishes and continued support over the last two months. Wishing everyone a Happy Mother’s Day.”

Last week, a grainy paparazzi shot of Catherine, riding in a car driven by her mother, was posted on the American celebrity gossip site TMZ. British newspapers and broadcasters reported widely on the photograph, but did not publish it, honoring the palace’s appeal that she be allowed to recuperate in private.

Britain’s news media has struggled with how to cover Catherine, torn between a ravenous public appetite for news about a future queen and Britain’s custom of giving even public figures a right to privacy in health matters.

Kensington Palace has released almost no information about Catherine’s surgery or recovery, saying only that she will not go back to official duties until after Easter. She was last seen in public on Christmas Day at Sandringham, the royal family’s country residence, where she attended church services with her family.

Catherine was not seen leaving the London Clinic, in the city’s Marylebone neighborhood, on Jan. 29, where she had spent 13 days after the surgery. There were no pictures of her being visited in the hospital by her husband or children, and there was only a single shot of William driving near the hospital during that period.

Charles, by contrast, was photographed leaving the same hospital after being treated for an enlarged prostate. Doctors discovered he had cancer during that procedure, Buckingham Palace later announced. The disclosure was a break with the family’s tradition of being reticent about making health issues public.

But the palace has also left questions about the king, not specifying what kind of cancer he has or his prognosis. Though he has suspended public appearances to undergo weekly treatment, Charles has continued to work. He was photographed holding his weekly meeting with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and speaking via video link with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada.

The health troubles of Charles and Catherine have made this an anxious winter for the royal family. Its ranks have already been slimmed by the death of Queen Elizabeth II in 2022 and her husband, Prince Philip, a year earlier, as well as by the bitter split with Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, who moved to California in 2020.

Early on Saturday morning, a car crashed into the main gate in front of Buckingham Palace. Neither Charles nor his wife, Queen Camilla, was there at the time, the palace said on Sunday, adding that the police had arrested the driver. London newspapers published images of a kneeling figure, surrounded by police officers who shouted, “Keep your hands on your head.” The police did not cite a motive.

The questions about Catherine peaked last week with the paparazzi shot, which prompted debate on social media about whether it was actually her. There was also confusion over an announcement by the British Army that Catherine would attend Trooping the Color, a military ceremony marking the birthday of the sovereign, in June.

Kensington Palace raised objections with the Defense Ministry, saying that only it confirms public appearances by the prince and princess of Wales. The army pulled the announcement off its website later that day.

With Catherine’s prolonged absence, the only hint about her condition came from her uncle, Gary Goldsmith, who appeared last week on a British reality TV show, “Celebrity Big Brother.” Mr. Goldsmith, 58, said his niece was getting “the best care in the world” but did not offer other details about her health.

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