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Questions posed that Princess of Wales photo was doctored

Kensington Palace is under pressure to answer questions about whether the first picture of Britain’s Princess of Wales to be released after her surgery has been digitally altered.

The image of Kate and her children, said by the palace to have been taken by the Prince of Wales, was posted on social media.

The photograph was shared with media on Sunday but it was withdrawn by international picture agencies later the same day because of concerns that the image had been manipulated.

Kensington Palace has not yet commented on the concerns raised about the picture.

However, without an official response from the palace, the confusion around the image is likely to fuel online conspiracy theories about Kate which have swirled on the internet since her abdominal surgery.

Royal commentator Peter Hunt said: “This is damaging for the royals.

“They knew there would be intense interest in any picture they released of Kate.

“Their challenge is that people will now question whether they can be trusted and believed when they next issue a health update.”

The picture shows Kate sitting in a chair with her arms around Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, who are on either side of her, with Prince George standing behind, as all four smile at the camera.

But there was speculation that edits had been made to the left sleeve of Princess Charlotte’s cardigan, and other areas of the picture also raised concerns about possible manipulation.

Details of the princess’s condition have not been disclosed

In the social media post, Kate thanked the public “for your kind wishes and continued support over the last two months”.

A spokesperson for the PA news agency said it had not killed the picture on its service, but was seeking urgent clarification from Kensington Palace about the concerns raised about manipulation.

The photo of the princess is the first released since she was admitted to the London Clinic, the private hospital where the King underwent treatment for an enlarged prostate, for a planned operation on 16 January.

Charles, 75, visited his daughter-in-law’s bedside after being admitted himself on January 26, the 11th day of Kate’s stay.

She was also visited by her husband, William.

Kate left the hospital on 29 January, almost two weeks later, and returned to Adelaide Cottage in Windsor.

Details of the princess’s condition have not been disclosed but Kensington Palace previously said it was not cancer-related and that Kate wished her personal medical information to remain private.

The 42-year-old future queen was last pictured in public during a Christmas Day walk in Sandringham, Norfolk.

Kate is not expected to return to official duties until after Easter, and William, 41, temporarily stepped back from his royal role to juggle caring for her and their children as she recovered.

Earlier this month the British army was forced into an embarrassing about-turn after suggesting Kate would attend Trooping the Colour on 8 June.

Tickets were being sold for the event, with Kate expected to attend in her role as Colonel of the Irish Guards, the regiment which is trooping its colour this year.

However, it is understood the British army did not seek approval from Kensington Palace before publishing the page, and the website was subsequently updated to remove the reference to her.

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