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White House says it will ‘respect’ Kate Middleton’s privacy amid doctored photo row

Days after Kensington Palace admitted that a photograph of the Princess of Wales and her children had been digitally altered, touching off new rounds of conspiracy-tinged speculation about her whereabouts and well-being, the White House has declared that it is officially staying out of the matter.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Wednesday told reporters that the matter of Kate’s alleged photo editing skills was not one she was bringing to the desk of President Joe Biden.

Speaking aboard Air Force One as Mr Biden and his staff travelled to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Ms Jean-Pierre was asked if Mr Biden or anyone from the administration had been in contact with the British government about the Princess.

She replied: “I have not spoken to the president about Kate Middleton.”

After a brief pause, the White House spokesperson adde that the Princess was “in recovery” and said the administration would be respecting her right to be left alone.

“She has asked for privacy. Her family has asked for privacy and we're certainly going to respect that,” she said.

The Princess of Wales’ last engagement in public was accompanying her husband, Prince William, and their three children to church at the royal family’s Sandringham estate in Norfolk.

On 17 January, Kensington Palace issued a statement which said she would be undergoing “planned abdominal surgery” and would refrain from any further public engagements until Easter.

Twelve days later the palace issued another statement announcing that she’d returned to the Wales’s home at Windsor Castle and reported that the princess was “making good progress” in her recovery. And a month later, on 29 February, the palace reiterated previous guidance stating that only “significant updates” would be provided about her health.

But the 10 March photograph, released to celebrate Britain’s Mother’s Day, sent royal-watchers and amatueur sleuths into a tizzy when it was discovered that the photograph had been digitally manipulated.

In a statement released by the palace, the princess took responsibility for the dodgy photoshop job, writing: “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.”

Ms Jean-Pierre’s exchange with the reporter aboard Air Force One on Wednesday marked the second consecutive day she was asked about the controversy.

On Tuesday, she told reporters at the daily White House press briefing that the Biden administration does not manipulate official photographs of the president.

After she was asked the question, she replied: “I would say no. Why would we digitally alter photos? Are you comparing us to what is going on in the UK?”

As the reporter attempted to justify the question as relevant because it concerned a “world leader,” Ms Jean-Pierre reiterated her previous statement.

“No, that is not something that we do here,” she said.