Already have an account?
Get back to the

Kate Middleton Conspiracy Theories Explained: Why the Internet Was Convinced Car Photo Was Fake

Kate Middleton
Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Princess Kate Middleton was photographed with husband Prince William while in the car — but conspiracy theorists were quick to run wild with accusations of editing, decoys and more.

The Princess of Wales, 42, was seen in a car with William, 41, on Monday, March 11, in photos obtained by the Daily Mail, marking only the second time Kate has been seen in public since her January abdominal surgery. The royals were photographed driving from Windsor Castle to a private appointment, and Kate’s head was turned away.

Since the photo was published, conspiracy theories have surfaced that the photo is not real, and the rumors were so rampant that both the photographer, Jim Bennett, and photo syndication service, Goff Photos, have had to deny the rumors.

The agency told E! News earlier this week that the photos “have been cropped and lightened” but “nothing has been doctored.”

Celebrities Who ve Weigh In on the Kate Middleton Controversies — And the Theories They ve Added 024

Related: Celebs Who've Weighed In on Kate Middleton Controversies — And Their Theories

Bennett echoed the idea in his own statement. “We don’t change our photos in Photoshop other than adjusting the light levels if necessary,” the photographer told The New York Post on Tuesday, March 12.

“The cars left Windsor Castle and I photographed them a short distance away on Datchet High Street — outside No. 39, to be precise!” he added. “Car shots are unpredictable at the best of times and with some reflection on the glass, it can be difficult.”

Conspiracy theorists noticed that the bricks seen through the car windows are multicolored while the ones seen above the car are all the same muted red tone, indicating an older wall. However, a simple Google Maps search of 39 High St. in Datchet, England, shows that the newer brick seen through the window would’ve been the garden wall while the older brick seen above the car was the exterior of a historic building called Datchet Lodge.


Prince William and Princess Kate Middleton.
Catherine, Princess of Wales, and Prince William, attend The Royal Variety Performance in November 2023. Ricky Vigil M/Justin E Palmer/GC Images

Despite debunking the brick evidence, some still don’t believe it’s a real photo. Many social media sleuths even speculated that the photo of Kate looking away matches ones taken on Christmas Day.

“That is not Kate in the car picture … absolutely nothing like her!” one X user said while another added, “Where is Kate? Fake family pictures and a sketchy car pap photo?! Something isn’t right …”

There are others who think that the photo is real — but claim that Kate isn’t in the photo.

“It honestly looks like Pippa to me,” one royal watcher wrote via X. “That being said, I’ve been around for longer than a minute. I don’t remember anything this weird coming from the RF, ever.”

Pippa Middleton, the princess’ sister made famous as a bridesmaid at the royal wedding in 2011, is the less scandalous guess with some suggesting that it’s actually Rose Hanbury in the Commonwealth Day photo.

Everything Kate Middleton Has Said About Her Amateur Photography Passions Through the Years 096

Related: Everything Kate Middleton Has Said About 'Amateur' Photography Passion

Rumors first circulated in 2019 that William had an affair with Hanbury, who is the Marchioness of Cholmondeley. She attended William and Kate’s 2011 wedding, but she was rumored to have a falling out with Kate in 2019 amid the alleged infidelity.

Hanbury’s name has resurfaced in part to Stephen Colbert, who recently brought up the scandal during a segment on The Late Show.

“Internet sleuths are guessing that Kate’s absence may be related to her husband, and the future King of England, William, having an affair. … I think we all know who the alleged other woman is, say it with me, The Marchioness of Cholmondeley,” Colbert joked about Hanbury. “Now there have been rumors of an affair between William and [Rose] since 2019. According to tabloids, back then, when Kate supposedly confronted him about it, he ‘laughed it off, saying there was nothing to it.’ Aha, always a good response when your wife accuses you of cheating.”

Generally, royal watchers seem to be more suspicious of Kate’s photos since it was discovered that Kensington Palace shared a doctored photo via social media earlier this month. Within hours of the photo being posted, several news agencies sent out a “kill notification” to remove the photo, noting it had been altered by the source.

Kate released a statement the following day, admitting to altering the photo: “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.”

Biggest Royal Family Scandals Through Years

Related: Royal Family Scandals Through the Years: Love Triangles, Step Downs and More

The princess has largely remained unseen since Kensington Palace announced she had undergone a “planned” abdominal surgery in January and would not return to any royal engagements until after Easter. Aside from her March 11 outing with William, she was once photographed in a car with mother Carole Middleton on March 4.

“Kate’s said she feels she’s entitled to heal and recuperate without all of this frenzied speculation,” a source exclusively told Us Weekly earlier this month. “Neither Kate nor William think her medical records should be for public consumption.”

Even those who work closely with the royal family are being kept out of the loop on what’s happening with the Princess of Wales. “A few of Kate’s senior staffers haven’t been able to see or speak to her, and they didn’t even know about the surgery until it was announced, so it’s caught them off guard,” the insider said.

In this article

Got a Tip form close button
Got a tip for US?
We're All Ears for Celebrity Buzz!