Kensington Palace will release future photos exclusively on social media, not handouts

I would love the inside story on exactly what went down between Kensington Palace and their British media handlers in the past three days. The British media likely expected a new birthday portrait of Prince Louis to be released over the weekend, in time for the Sunday papers. When that didn’t happen, there were LOTS of stories about “will we get a photo” and “we’re not going to get a photo, because the palace was caught manipulating and editing photos.” Then, magically, a new photo appeared on the Waleses’ social media after noon on Tuesday, which was Louis’s birthday. The official story is that Prince William and Kate were “debating” whether or not to issue a photo, because something something Kate’s “privacy.” But really, something else is going on behind the scenes. Still, the Times notes that Kensington Palace has basically changed their internal policies about how they issue photos:

The Princess of Wales has shared a picture of Prince Louis to mark his sixth birthday during what is understood to be an unprecedented time for the family. Palace sources said the image had been taken by Kate in the past few days at Windsor and has not been edited.

She and Prince William are said to be grateful for the birthday messages they have received for the youngest of their three children. It marks a change from the usual release of pictures to celebrate the birthday of a royal prince or princess, which are usually granted the day beforehand.

However, it is understood that the family were debating the timing of the release as the princess continues her recovery after the announcement that she was receiving cancer treatment. While the family had initially asked for privacy during Kate’s recovery, they decided to release an image of Louis because, on balance, they believed that it was important to use the picture as a way to thank those who have sent birthday wishes.

The new procedure — to release of an image via the Wales’s social media channels rather than an official portrait released through the mainstream media — is expected to be followed again when Princess Charlotte turns nine next Thursday. Prince George, the eldest child, is 11 in July.

[From The Times]

“To release… an image via the Wales’s social media channels rather than an official portrait released through the mainstream media” – as I said, the British papers expected an advanced copy of Louis’s portrait so they could run it in their Sunday editions. Usually, that is the way it works, with outlets like the Mail, the Times and the Telegraph getting palace-issued photos which the media outlets then publish and distribute. That was what happened with the Mother’s Day photo, and that’s what led to the kill order on the photo by Getty, AP, AFP and Reuters. And that’s what led to the widespread conversation about Kensington Palace’s lack of credibility. So now the palace’s policy change is that no one gets advance copies and everything is just being “issued” through KP’s social media, with palace briefings and assurances that everything is above-board. A distinction without a difference for many people, but it’s still fascinating to me that this is the solution the KP brain trust worked out. I wonder if they’ll release Charlotte’s birthday portrait in the middle of the day on her birthday as well.

Photos courtesy of Kensington Palace.

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72 Responses to “Kensington Palace will release future photos exclusively on social media, not handouts”

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  1. JT says:

    Sounds like they don’t want to issue hand outs to the media because they don’t want people inspecting the photos for manipulation. You can’t issue kill orders for photos on instagram.

    • MSS says:

      That seems right

    • Becks1 says:

      This is what I was thinking. Can you even inspect the metadata etc on a photo released only on social media?

    • Jan90067 says:


    • WiththeAmerican says:

      It’s the Kim K, Beyoncé, and Ariana method of control – only be seen in photos you control and can edit to your hearts content.

      Very managed. They’re saying they’re not official part of a constitutional monarchy anymore, but more just very private but taxpayer funded celebrities.

    • ML says:

      You nailed it, JT. For whatever reason, since last Christmas all images of K and the kids have been very carefully controlled to the point of seeming fake. This gives them further control…why do they not trust photographers??!

      Next, this is a picture of Louis. What on earth does this have to do with K, her recovery, and needing to release pictures this way? That makes no sense. Plus, the Frankenphoto was taken by and released by William.

      • jemmy says:

        Perhaps following in Harry & Meghan’s footsteps of ensuring the privacy of their children howbeit done more out of a tit for tat scenario.
        He maybe thinking that if the press cannot get Harry & Meghan to deliver their children up for pubic consumption , then they would not allowing the photo ops of the Waleses.
        Also it could that William is trying to insert himself in whatever fight Harry is involved with regarding press intrusion ( ie as the one who is anti Press and is the one calling them out for their misdeeds) so he can ride Harry’s coat tails should Harry win the court cases against the media.

      • Square2 says:

        @JEMMY You thought too highly of the Wails. They sold out their kids to the BM long time ago (Remember Kate’s Cutie calendars?). This is simply they want to control photos they put out, be it kids, adults, dogs or whatever, without any integrity.

        Harry & Meghan no longer work for the BRF & government and do not get one single penny from the British people.

      • ThatIsTheThing says:

        I fully believe that Kate was assaulted by William and is permanently disabled or dead.

        I don’t believe she is capable of appearing in public any further.

    • AMB says:

      But presumably the handouts were for print use, which 1) I would think need to be higher resolution than online, and 2) would need to be available prior to actually printing the physical papers to appear on the day.

      So what are the print outlets supposed to do, just gank stuff from online and print that? Afterwards?

      Since to my understanding a large percentage of RF supporters are in older demographics, is this going to create unintended consequences? Stupid question, of course it is – now to sit back and see those consequences hit the fan.


      • Lorelei says:

        @Amb, exactly! This is only going to piss off the tabloids— getting those photos first was one of their only “exclusives” left and part of their deal with W&K…they’re going to be angry. And I agree that many older royalists look forward to seeing the photos in the actual newspaper and are likely not on Instagram. It will be fun to see how this plays out! Will the tabloids retaliate?

    • rosa mwemaid says:

      You hit the nail on the head. We will have to watch out for fakes ourselves.

    • kirk says:

      They won’t be delivering handouts to photo agencies because they don’t want a repeat of the AP disclaimer on Louis pix that made it abundantly clear AP was NOT verifying authenticity. In lieu of wasting time and effort verifying the KP handout was neither a cheapfake or a deepfake, AP just quoted palace verbiage attributing the statements KP made about the picture solely to the palace. That seems an entirely reasonable thing for photo agencies to do.

      Not my problem as to whether britmedia will have to scrape KP instagram to get pictures of the “working” MIA monarchy members. My guess is KP will demand compensation (Kitty’s copyright royalties) from britmedia to publish KP social media pix under their own banner.

  2. HeatherC says:

    That picture of her in the armchair by the window…looks like the lens was smeared with Vaseline. Kinda like Barbara Walters in her later years, the Focus is all fuzzy and gauzy.

    She is so airbrushed all the time, I wonder what the reaction is to seeing her in person.

  3. So cutting out the press and just going with their social media. That’s interesting. How will the press take this because they are all in bed together. Maybe the press will start going hard on the Wales. One can hope.

    • ML says:

      At some point the press will be taking live pictures of the royals. I’m curious as to how they’ll be treated by the photographers, too.

    • Another Anne says:

      Isn’t this the same thing they blasted the Sussexes for? lol

  4. Jais says:

    So if all future photos are only released through KP’s social media, as opposed to news outlets like Getty and Ap, we’re supposed to just believe that if palace sources say they’re not edited then they’re not edited. This means that they could never again be called out by a photo agency right? Am I understanding this correctly? They can photoshop as much as they want now and just say it wasn’t edited whether that’s true or not. The one thing I appreciated about photo agencies calling out the frankenphoto was that it was clear-cut and there was no maybe about it. This just feels like a new way to do whatever the hell they want with their photos, manipulate and mislead, without being called out by the photo agencies. That’s what’s happening right? So yay, now we can keep having nonstop comment sections about the weather, a tooth, the angle of a hair parting. How fun. Yes, it’s sarcasm.

    • Becks1 says:

      So, I think you can still determine if it was edited if the editing is as bad as the frankenphoto – like, that was so obviously edited that people with little photography training could notice it – the way the clothes didn’t line up, the changes in the tiles, etc. But I said above I think this means you can’t verify the metadata – so it becomes harder to “prove” that there was editing or that the photo is from when they say its from. We might be able to “tell” but not “prove,” you know?

      But if the photo isn’t being distributed to the photo agencies, then they might not have to verify it the way they verified the frankenphoto.

      I don’t know. But it sure seems like this is a way around a photo agency issuing another kill order.

      You know what else is an easy way around that? To stop releasing manipulated photos…..

      • Jais says:

        @becks1, they’ve been manipulating photos for so long that I don’t think they can stop. I also think it’s there way of avoiding a kill order but also a way of punishing the photo agencies for the kill order. They even called the agencies hypocrites they were so mad. They’re like fine we just won’t give you any more photos ever. Petulant and pouty vibes.

      • rosa mwemaid says:

        But! but! but that means they would have to be honest photos.

    • BeanieBean says:

      That’s how I took it. They better get ready for LOTS of comments on their SM posts, where we sharp-eyed peasants will let them know when we see photo manipulation & ask directly, who do they think they’re kidding?

      • Beverley says:

        Oh no! *clutches nonexistent pearls*
        KP will finally feel compelled to moderate those social media comments. How inconvenient! Why won’t the unwashed masses just buy what they’re selling?!?

      • Jais says:

        @beaniebean, I’m trying to figure out if they care what comments the peasants are saying. They just don’t want get another kill order from an official agency. Who cares what the peasants are saying is the attitude they’re giving. And I swear it feels like they’re trolling and inciting the conspiracy theories. For what purpose, idfk? To muddy the waters? To distract? For engagement?

      • Jan90067 says:

        Can’t they just turn off comments on Insta? I don’t use it so I don’t know…

    • Sunday says:

      It’s the same fuzzy line as when someone doesn’t know whether to charge the after-conference drinks to business or personal. By posting the photos on social media instead of disseminating them via official news media, KP is attempting to create a distinction between business and personal to mitigate professional responsibility and ethics. If Kate is just a regular mom filtering her instapics to the gods before posting, then naturally those photos wouldn’t be held to the same standards of accuracy or level of scrunity as official historic media.

      But aside from giving them another means of evading responsibility for any potential inaccuracies, it also changes the distribution method of the photos themselves – the media would no longer be licensing photos officially credited to Kate via a photo agency, everything would be sourced to the social post, most likely insta. *That* is interesting to me bc I believe it was previously speculated that Kate was actually pocketing the money from those licensing fees; if so, it means that the Middletons have been cut off from yet another revenue stream.

    • Dutch says:

      The Wales’ are counting on that the social media pics won’t be scrutinized by the agencies because it’s just assumed and accepted that all pics posted to social media are doctored in some way. It won’t stop the unwashed masses from looking for signs of major manipulation, but it greatly reduces the risk of embarrassment from one of their photos being killed by a photo agency in the future.

    • BQM says:

      I think it means that every photo will carry an announcement like the one on Louis’. That they can’t verify that no editing was done to the photo.

  5. ennie says:

    You just know, if Harry and Meghan were the ones doing this shenanigans, they (well, her, as always) would be SO attacked. Since it is these coddled manchild and womanchild, they will be protected by the media.

  6. aquarius64 says:

    This decision but KP is stupid because it:s going to breed a new round of conspiacy theories of the Waleses have something to hide.

  7. VoominVava says:

    Interesting .. it almost sounds as if Kensington Palace (and the future King & Queen) are trying to get out of the long standing agreement with the media. Whether it gets to the point of William’s reign or not, it will be very different than the status quo I think.

  8. BeanieBean says:

    That’s certainly one way to get around kill orders & journalist standards.

    • Saucy&Sassy says:

      BeanieBean, wouldn’t the media now need to publish these IG photos under entertainment? If they can’t guarantee the photo by metadata and getting copies of the original pictures, they can’t publish them as news. Correct?

  9. SCAR ❤️❤️❤️❤️ says:

    The ability to lie to your subjects without your subjects having to hear you being called out, in the worlds news, as a liar. Looks like Katie is at home with an addiction to photoshop on her back.

  10. janey says:

    so these idiots are taking something away from the British press by no longer giving them first access to their photos? Just sticking them on socials like any other grubby little peasant? I can’t see this ending well for them.

    • KT says:

      Yup, they are punishing the media.

      It’s going to be fascinating to watch the fall-out from this. They are gambling that the press dare not hit back or that they have lost enough power for their attacks to have no impact.

    • Christine says:

      They are also adding another layer of protecting Kate’s privacy, which is idiotic. Is she expecting praise? Exactly how does a photo of Louie affect her privacy at all? It’s the snotty tone of this that is pissing me off, like everyone should be grateful her highness deigned to put a photo on social media in her time of need. Give me a massive break.

  11. Dee(2) says:

    So, they are going to work from home, release photos only on social media, not release any details about the demographics of their staff, not minimize any funding, get exempted from literal crimes, and not appear in public. They have really snookered the British public. This is the best deal in history.

  12. Beverley says:

    KP is so contemptuous of the public’s intelligence. Their arrogance is breathtaking!

    • SURE says:

      I reckon being royal means they are raised to be contemptuous of the public’s intelligence. As for the new straight-to-SM approach, I think it emphasises how thin skinned they are when they’re on the receiving end of criticism. Their reaction is just so childish but, of course, that is very on brand for WanK.

  13. Mslove says:

    I think the plan is to have Peg’s reign be mostly on social media, lol. He’ll show up for state dinners and star-studded galas, but the rest will be pics & videos on their social media channels.

  14. Sunshine says:

    No guidelines and no accountability.

  15. Miss617 says:

    Lol, wasn’t this one of the changes Harry and Meghan wanted to implement with sharing their family photos where they were told absolutely not?

  16. EasternViolet says:

    I think this is about who controls the release. Let’s say there is a divorce. Only 1 party will have control of the social media account, as opposed to any party sending an image via email to the various press outlets.

  17. Digital Unicorn says:

    This is KP attempting to not only circumvent the scrutiny of the photo agencies but its about control – they want to control the media pure and simple. If the photo agencies won’t kiss their ass then they will use SM which won’t work out well for them as it will just p!ss the press off even more than they already are with them.

    The KP brain trust needs sone serious diagnosis and treatment.

    • Where'sMyTiara says:

      You can bet that the UK press will not take kindly to this gamesmanship by KP. Watch the tabs retaliate by starting to spill drops of tea regarding WanK and the real reason why she hasn’t been seen alive since late December 2023.

  18. Mads says:

    Oh a couple of tabloids got in a sly dig by adding a line “no photoshop needed!”

    They’ve obviously briefed this is how pics of Charlotte and George will be issued for their upcoming birthdays and I wonder if that will hold for the obligatory Father’s Day/William’s birthday photo? William’s definitely pushing the rota and the big beasts of the UK media if he sticks to this change and could find the current overly gushing “wonderful supportive husband and father” narrative turn to veiled hints about the truth rather jarring. Part of me wonders if he would even care.

  19. Kyliegirl says:

    The release of the photo was also well timed to make the US morning shows. Why are the BM not making a big deal that W&K are courting the us media and paying them dust? Interesting.

    • Saucy&Sassy says:

      Kyliegirl, yes, I think that’s exactly why it was released when it was. I wonder how long the bm is going to quietly accept that?

  20. QuiteContrary says:

    This move fits perfectly with William’s obsession with control. If they release photos this way, they can also turn off comments.

    Also, why would strangers send birthday messages to a 6-year-old child they don’t know? Similarly, why do people give up their Easter and Christmas mornings to hand presents to extremely privileged children walking to church? I just don’t get the royal worship.

    • esquire says:

      Exactly; it’s about control. Not sure where you reside, but for those of us who grew up with the monarchy, it’s a hard habit to shake. I don’t worship them, but I do still admire the late Queen EII for no rational reason.

      • AC says:

        Kyliegirl, that’s an interesting take. Releasing the photo right at the start of the US morning shows(in the east coast when it’s live) when most people have their TVs on before heading for work or school. As predicted since last year, they were going to put the US in the middle of their crap.

  21. Amy Bee says:

    So, William and Kate are basically going to do what Harry and Meghan wanted to do? They wanted to post pictures when they wanted without having to issue an official statement and to give the photos to the press. So is the press just going to accept this or are they going to get outraged and attack William and Kate in the press like they did Harry and Meghan?

  22. Isabella says:

    Last year, Kate was making her kids pose with their mouths propped wide open like horses (see Franken photo). So, I think this Louis birthday photo is at least from this year.

  23. JenCF says:

    So they choose to die on the twin hills of school runs and Kate-taken kids photos, because those 2 things ‘validate’ them as relatable. I guess they want to continue manipulating photos without the legitimate media outlets questioning them (although Twitter will until the end of time)

  24. Shawna says:

    Palace equivalent of taking your toys and going home. Louis isn’t the only source of tantrums in Windsor….

  25. Interested Gawker says:

    I was curious to know if the birthday photo would continue on as a general handout and now we find KP will stick to SM.

    Setting aside the previous kill notice from the international news wires this is a very new landscape for the BM and its traditional print editions. The photos used to be sent ahead and embargoed until the actual date because the image had to go to the printers. Now that exclusivity has been removed what do the BM have anymore? H&M are out of their clutches and KP has denied them first publication of Royal Child photos. That was a more recent agreement between the BM and the palace to come to a workable solution to stop the kids getting followed about and papped like they used to do to William and Harry in the old days. So no scrutiny from third parties not beholden to the BRF and taking a revenue stream and first dibs away from the BM. Will the rise of the paparazzi return to stalk the kids now that KP cut them off. Does KP really want to poke that hornet’s nest?

    • Lorelei says:

      @InterestedGawker, this strikes me as an impulsive decision made by William, with absolutely no thought to its long-term consequences. It’s obvious to all of us that this looks like a huge “FU” to the British media, even though it was likely meant as a punishment to the photo agencies who dared to question KP.
      Either way, they lost the exclusivity of the pictures of the kids and it may result in lower sales of the print newspapers. Time will tell. But I don’t think they’ll let W&K off the hook too easily…they owe the press *much* more than they’re currently providing. They need to sell copy, whether print or online, and right now the Leftovers aren’t giving them anything to work with. This new nonsense is only going to make things worse. Something’s gotta give, eventually.

      • Interested Gawker says:

        That tracks, I think. William’s growing up was mitigated by throwing Harry out front most of the time but he certainly had his own hellish relationship with the BM and understandable grudges against them. His relationship with different media outlets is mysterious and he seems to keep having the upper hand over them these days. Who knows how long that can last if he keeps them on the outside, losing revenue, while they keep amassing secrets against him. When it blows one can bet the BM have a lot of ammunition to spend on William.

  26. tamsin says:

    I don’t understand this at all. What’s so difficult about rounding up one child and getting him or her to pose for a photo- a candid shot will do. Why do they have to make up a big song and dance. Surely they have necessary photo-taking down to routine? It just encourages one to think there is something wrong, and they are hiding something. If they are not candid about a straight forward current photo of one of the children, it makes you wonder about what is happening to the children. Not only is Kate “disappeared” but they seem to be doing the same to the children. Birthdays would be the perfect time for them to show the public the children are well, cared-for, and going on with a normal routine, which is what children need.

  27. ohwell says:

    The media is being iced out and no push back?

  28. Scooby Gang says:

    It’s so strange to me that after taking a big hit to their credibility, rather than bending over backwards to regain some trust, the behave in a way that makes them look even more guilty and untrustworthy. Certainly not the first time we’ve seen them implement this “strategy.”

  29. Anna M says:

    The Sussex family are trendsetters after all. Everything W & K complained about and briefed the rota about H & M, they have turned around and done it now. From their style, to wanting some semblance of privacy, to family photos, to their interaction with the rota. So, they chased the Sussexes only to turn around and do what they were asking for? 🤦‍♀️

  30. s808 says:

    The press are just gonna roll over and take it too because what else can they do? Idiots. Everyone was so short sighted but they might’ve been the most short sighted of all. How quickly they forgot W hated them and his obsession with control and privacy.

  31. kelleybelle says:

    Interesting that at age 42, Kate has to be photographed through a filter to hide the lines and jowls. Jebus.