5 Takes on the Princess Kate Photo Fiasco

It 'showcases the confusion and chaos of a choose-your-own-reality information dystopia'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 13, 2024 3:00 AM CDT
5 Takes on the Princess Kate Photo Fiasco
A montage of some of the front pages of Britain's newspapers on Tuesday, March 12, 2024.   (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

The manipulated photo Princess Kate released on Sunday has caused a major PR crisis for the British royals—and sparked plenty of discussion on the spread of faked images in what Charlie Warzel at the Atlantic calls a "post-truth universe."

  • Warzel says the image "showcases the confusion and chaos of a choose-your-own-reality information dystopia." "For years, researchers and journalists have warned that deepfakes and generative-AI tools may destroy any remaining shreds of shared reality," Warzel writes. "Experts have reasoned that technology might become so good at conjuring synthetic media that it becomes difficult for anyone to believe anything they didn't witness themselves. The royal-portrait debacle illustrates that this era isn't forthcoming. We're living in it."

  • The blunder from one of the more popular, media-savvy royals is likely to further undermine public trust in the monarchy, according to the New York Times. "Like so many millennial celebrities, the Princess of Wales has built a successful public image by sharing with her audience a carefully curated version of her personal life," royal historian Ed Owens tells the Times. He says the manipulated photo is damaging because it casts doubt on the "authenticity" of her home life.
  • Sean Coughlan, BBC royal correspondent, believes the pressure on Kate could be unfair. "We want the royals to be like us—taking a relaxed family picture for Mother's Day—but at the same time we want them to be completely different and special," he writes. "Is Catherine caught somewhere in that contradiction?"

  • Imogen West-Knights at Slate writes that the episode suggests there could be a grain of truth in conspiracy theories about the princess—and if there isn't, it was an "extraordinarily stupid" mistake to release it. "Nothing could have been better designed to stoke the flames of people being mental online about Kate Middleton than a clearly edited photograph of her," she writes.
  • The reaction to the photo marked another clash between celebrities' desire to look perfect and journalistic ethics' demand for the truth, according to the Washington Post. "Still, this was not a war zone. It was a picture of some kids and their mom. Which made the fakery both ridiculous and—for anyone who has ever tried to get three kids to stay still and smile at the same time—kind of sympathetic."
(More Kate Middleton stories.)

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