Kate Middleton Caught on Video Shopping in Windsor with Prince William Over the Weekend

Portrait of Catherine, Princess of Wales

Catherine, Princess of Wales attends the Christmas morning service at Sandringham Church on December 25, 2023. It's one of her last public appearances to date. Photo: Stephen Pond/Getty Images

UPDATE: Call it one small step for Kate Middleton, and one giant leap for social media royal watchers.

After enduring endless online scrutiny about her whereabouts following abdominal surgery earlier this year – which was only heightened by the now-infamous digitally altered U.K. Mother’s Day photo featuring her and her three children – the Princess of Wales was captured on a video released by TMZ showing her with her husband, Prince William, at the Windsor Farm Shop over the weekend.


The U.K.’s Sun newspaper also shared the video and reported that, “Onlookers said she looked ‘happy, relaxed and healthy’ on the visit a mile from her Adelaide Cottage home in Windsor on Saturday.”

The Sun quoted an unnamed person who was at the farm and witnessed the Prince and Princess of Wales shopping.

“After all the rumours that had been going round I was stunned to see them there,” the witness said. “Kate was out shopping with William and she looked happy and she looked well. The kids weren’t with them but it’s such a good sign she was healthy enough to pop down to the shops.”

The last time Kate was seen in public was earlier this month, when she was photographed in the passenger seat of a car that her mother was driving. Prior to that, she hadn’t been seen since Christmas Day.

Mike Crisolago


The Kate Middleton Photo Scandal: Why The Royal Family’s “Never Complain, Never Explain” Maxim is No Longer Effective

By Leanne Delap

(originally published March 15, 2024) 


Catherine, Princess of Wales, is surely due some sick time. The lifelong job in full-glare of the spotlight offers a lot of perks – including spectacular jewellery but it is also a more-than-full-time gig with precious little privacy. Medical records should be the one thing she, like every other human on earth, can count on to remain private. Good grief, give the woman some peace!

But her time off to recover from major (unspecified) abdominal surgery has turned into a multi-day front-page frenzy of boldface headlines in Britain, a meme nightmare involving Weekend at Bernie’s imagery, and cannon fodder for ugly rumours about allegations of her husband cheating. Even people who don’t tend to follow the British Royal Family are talking about the now-infamous digitally altered Mothering Sunday – Mother’s Day on this side of the pond – photo.

A newspaper article Britain's national newspapers showing the altered mother's day photo
Britain’s national newspapers were flooded with stories about the altered Mother’s Day photo released by Kensington Palace on March 10. The Princess of Wales later apologized and AFP and other agencies withdrew the altered image. Photo: Paul Ellis / AFP via Getty Images


Kate took the responsibility – if not directly – for the editing on this particular photograph. It was a carefully worded, oblique apology, but she signed her name to the mess.

Was it a case of recuperating Kate living in a bubble and simply wanting to polish up a picture taken, as they indicated, by William? Here’s the rub: This scandal would never have happened had she simply posted the photo on the official @princeandprincessofwales Instagram account.

It blew up because it was distributed by the Kensington Palace press team to major news photo agencies. Those agencies have clear standards about the digital alteration of photos. It was the “kill” order that was what ignited this firestorm.

Kate remains the most popular member of the Royal Family at 38 per cent approval rating, according to an Ipsos Reid poll released this week. NB (or in newspaper parlance, note well): The poll was taken last week, before the colloquially-called “Photoshop fail,” even though the photo was technically edited or manipulated. Also this week, a YouGov poll showed that most Britons feel that Kate should be able to keep her medical information private: 49 per cent of respondents asserted they had been given the right amount of info on the Princess of Wales’ condition, with just 20 per cent saying they hoped to hear more details.

That the incident of the altered photo became such huge news that it has turned nasty – Late Show host Stephen Colbert did a particularly savage bit hinting that the real news was the rumoured affair between Prince William and the Marchioness of Cholmondeley, Rose Hanbury, a subject around which William has threatened litigation in the past. Last Week Tonight host John Oliver outlandishly suggested there is a “non-zero chance” that the Princess has been dead for 18 months. Even the Washington Post published a cartoon of Prince William manipulating a cardboard-cut-out Kate in the palace windows.

Conspiracies have been brewing since William cancelled his appearance at the memorial service for his godfather, King Constantine of Greece. That was the first alarm that primed the frantic response to this altered photo development. Prior to that, people everywhere were expressing concern for the King Charles III’s health drama and eventually reassured by his occasional appearances, be it in public or online via video message, as per the Commonwealth service last week.

A video screen with King Charles III delivering a message during an annual Commonwealth Day service
Guests watch a video of King Charles III delivering a message during an annual Commonwealth Day service ceremony at Westminster Abbey in London, on March 11, 2024. Photo by Henry Nicholls / Pool /AFP via Getty Images


There is an entire rota of royal reporters – not to mention full-time pundits and insider “sources” – that are used to the steady drip of royal news to fill their copy holes. That this blew up in Britain is one thing. But in the days since, the British press has returned to Catherine’s “side” as it were, and have begun to ask for space for her recovery again. It is, in fact, the larger online world, and American press – which has become conversant in royal news since the Sussexes moved to their shores that have taken the story and made it bigger than Sarah Ferguson’s 1992 toe-sucking scandal.

It is a confluence of events: Two of the most prominent Royal Family members – Charles and Kate – taken off the field at the same time due to illness of unknown severity, along with the growing use of photo manipulation tools and the lack of trust in institutions.

The “slimmed-down” monarchy conversation is really a way for pundits to remind the world that Harry and Meghan left, and that Prince Andrew was relegated offside. (On that note, the news cycle is sure to shift again when Scoop, the Netflix film about the Andrew Newsnight interview debacle, is released. It already shifted when Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, announced her new lifestyle brand and site this week.)

King Charles III and Queen Camilla walk the grounds on the Sandringham estate
King Charles and Queen Camilla attend the Sunday service at the Church of St. Mary Magdalene on the Sandringham estate in February. Buckingham Palace announced on Feb. 5 that, during the king’s recent hospital procedure for benign prostate enlargement, a separate issue of concern was noted which has been diagnosed as a form of cancer and that he has begun a schedule of regular treatments. Photo: Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images


King Charles promised transparency in his reign when he acceded to the throne. He duly reported his treatment for an enlarged prostate – which lead to a surge of inquiries about the issue in Great Britain, proof of the good that high-profile people can do in sharing health news – and then kept the British public informed about his cancer diagnosis. He has not shared the nature and location of his cancer and personally I think that is more than fair – there is not a lot of dignity in having one’s entrails analyzed. It made me think of the diagrams on the news of Ronald Reagan’s colon when the U.S. president had a polyp removed in the ’80s: Rulers do owe a certain amount of information for their tax-paying base to prepare for potential change, but how much really is too much intrusion?

Ditto for Kate. Yes, she will be Queen of England, but she herself is not in the direct line of succession. A good analogy as consort would be Prince Philip, whose own health woes were never revealed in detail.

And yet, the world has become a very different place with keyboard warriors chiming in and shaping coverage of events. The monarchy used to do well by its “never complain, never explain” motto. But times have changed.

As our editor-in-chief, Suzanne Boyd, wrote in the editorial to the upcoming print issue of Zoomer, the process of letting light into the monarchy was opened with the 1969 fly-on-the-wall documentary Royal Family. Previously the monarchy was protected by an unwritten rule of deference: Britons were never told about Mrs. Simpson, for instance, until Edward VIII was on the verge of abdication, or that George VI had lung cancer. Even today, British publications did not run the first photo of Kate seen since her surgery, riding in the car with her mother, which was published on TMZ and lead to more conspiracy theories.

Prince Philip, who was the instigator behind breaking tradition and televising the late Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation, as well as the filming of Royal Family, opened a Pandora’s Box. The tribulations of the ’90s, with three royal divorces and press-magnet ex-daughters-in-law, all contributed to a sense of the public seeing inside palace walls, and personal business.

Kate, as she alluded to in her apology, is an amateur  photographer – though an accomplished one, enough so to have her portraits of Holocaust survivors exhibited at the Imperial War Museum London. She is also patron of the British Royal Photography Society.

She had come up with a great strategy to protect her children from the feeding frenzy that William and Harry experienced from photo calls as children. Kate took up her camera and provided family photos herself, to great and charming success. Notably, Prince William had the photo credit on this latest photo and, unfortunately, this scandal will threaten that image pipeline and her control over it.

Britain's Catherine, Princess of Wales looks at a photograph of Ziggi Shipper and his family by photographer Arthur Edwards during a visit to the Imperial War Museum
The Princess of Wales looks at a photograph of Ziggi Shipper and his family by photographer Arthur Edwards during a visit to the Imperial War Museum, London in 2021. Photo: Arthur Edwards / Pool / AFP via Getty Images


Is the imbroglio perhaps that Kate has done too perfect a job? In two decades in public, she has pretty much never set a foot wrong. Loads of behind-the-scenes rumours have emerged, but on the world stage, in the harshest of spotlights, she has done everything right, served untiringly as asked, initiated numerous worthy projects and initiatives, put on the hats and tiaras and sashes and gotten on with the work.

The narrative has also splintered further, with some onlookers accusing William of throwing Kate “under the bus” since he was listed as the actual photographer. But who could blame Kate if the result wasn’t up to her standards, and she took to her computer to make her kids look better? After all, anyone with even a single child knows getting a frame without a silly face is  tough enough; getting three to grin on command is near impossible.

It is clear Kate underwent major surgery (for what is truly none of anyone else’s business), a life-altering kind of event that takes time to recover. Considering that Kate is expected to be perfect at every sighting, it is no wonder she chose to do her recuperation completely out of the public eye. The photo release was a slip, exacerbated by the Palace releasing it to news organizations. It made things worse, instead of better.

Social media is still kind of new for the Windsors (check out @royalfamily, by the way, for the incongruously groovy Dua Lipa soundtrack video about the release of Camilla Barbie). The social media account of the Wales’ grew by 110,000 followers in the aftermath of the photo scandal.

It’s a seismic moment that photo news agencies rejected a photo as unrunnable. It’s also seismic that an apology came from a family that stays mum amid almost all criticism. In this new era, the apology might actually do as it was intended, and quell the waters. It’s clear we’re in a moving-on phase, with William remarking that “My wife is the arty one” as he decorated cookies with his kids at a youth centre on Friday, seemingly not caring that people may draw a conclusion between that comment and the situation with his wife.

While it is highly unlikely we will hear any further on the subject of the altered photo from the Prince and Princess of Wales, or that Kensington Palace will release the original image, we’re also unlikely to see Kate in any official capacity before her tentatively planned post-Easter return to duty.

Meanwhile, this episode may have the unintended positive effect of humanizing Kate. To err, after all, is the most human of activities.


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