The photo that made everything worse
The photo was released on Mother's Day. Credit: PA

It was supposed to show a happy princess with her children on Mother’s Day while also showing the world that Kate was fine despite all the wild conspiracy theories of recent weeks.

Kensington Palace has achieved exactly the opposite.

It started with a missing wedding ring on Kate’s hand which was explained away by her office who responded by saying she was at home, and in any event, it was her husband who took the photo.

And then came the withdrawal of the image by major, global picture agencies.

We now have a new round of conspiracy theories and, perhaps worse, widespread mockery of the palace and major issues of trust in the information it provides.

No one can think of a time when an official, palace-authorised photograph has been “killed”, to use the industry jargon, by agencies such as Reuters, AP and AFP, which distribute images around the world.

Some of them told clients they had concerns the photo had been “manipulated” by the source (the palace).

Others said there were “post-production” editorial issues with it.

There were concerns about the way Princess Charlotte’s arm did not line up with her sleeve, the way Prince George’s arms are placed around Kate’s shoulders, a misaligned pattern on the sleeve of Prince Louis’ sweater, and even the summer-like leaves on a plant when it is early spring.

All the agencies had asked clients to remove the photograph because it didn’t meet their necessary standards.

The initial response from William and Kate’s office to that unprecedented turn of events?

“No comment."

Then, on Monday morning, Kate herself apologised for any confusion over the family photograph, admitting she had edited the picture.

In a statement released by Kensington Palace, 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. C"

The palace had said earlier in the day that it was Prince William who took the photo sometime last week in Windsor, where the family lives.

So is this simply a case of a clumsy bit of Photoshopping in order to make all four subjects look their best?

It’s notoriously difficult to get a good snap when you have three children in the same photo.

Did someone swap in one or more of the children from one of the other attempts or “takes”. If that were the case, then it is a clumsy error which has had widespread consequences.

Because after all the rumours about Kate’s health, a digitally-altered photograph was not going to make those rumours go away. In fact, they’ve simply grown overnight.

Now conspiracy theorists are questioning whether this was a recent or much older image of Kate and whether the palace is trying to hide something about her health.

It all depends on how quickly, and effectively, the issues with this Mother’s Day photo can be explained.

This is the Royal Rota - our weekly podcast about the royal family, with ITV News Royal Editor Chris Ship and Producer Lizzie Robinson.

The thing is, Kensington Palace did not have to issue this Mother’s Day photo at all.

They had said, the Princess of Wales would be off duty until at least Easter following her abdominal surgery in January.

They could have stuck to that line and lived with the conspiracies which were always going to find a home on social media somewhere.

But now they have a whole new set of conspiracies thriving online and these ones are of their own making.

They may go away with time, but the longer-term damage will be to the issue of trust.

Can we now automatically rely on the authenticity of a palace-issued photograph?

Worse still, might this have also damaged the trust between the palace and the press (and by extension everyone else) about the accuracy of information on members of the Royal Family?

It all depends on how quickly, and effectively, the issues with this Mother’s Day photo can be explained.