Uncanny Kate Middleton Family Photo Spawns Even Weirder Memes

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Ecce Homo Iconic Image Alteration Scoreboard: Spanish restorer 1, Kate Middleton 0 … At least the restorer stood by her artistry. (screenshot Lisa Yin Zhang/ Hyperallergic via X)

A strange photo of Kate Middleton and her three children shared over the weekend has added fuel to the fire of rumors that she has been missing in action since January. The Princess of Wales had withdrawn from the public since Christmas Day 2023, and Kensington Palace later confirmed that she had undergone a “planned abdominal surgery” in mid-January. The minute amount of available information prompted social media users to throw conspiracy theories at the wall to see what stuck — including but not limited to speculations of a Brazilian Butt Lift and Kate pulling a Gone Girl.

But the Princess broke her silence on Sunday, March 10 — Mother’s Day in the United Kingdom — to share a family portrait that truly did nothing to quell the conspiracy theories if not exacerbate them.

News and photo agencies such as the Associated Press and Getty Images issued withdrawal notices for the photo, citing evidence of digital manipulation that violated their image policies. In a statement today, March 11, Middleton admitted to “experiment[ing] with editing” as an amateur photographer and apologized for the confusion, which only motivated people to continue pointing out odd inconsistencies throughout the image and, naturally, meme-ing the life out of it. One person couldn’t resist adding an art historical perspective by superimposing the botched restoration of a fresco in Spain lovingly known as “Beast Jesus.”

Below, we present some of the most iconic responses to the Middleton family portrait from the uncanny valley …

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Now that’s what we call a family photo (screenshot Valentina Di Liscia/Hyperallergic via X)

The rumors placed Kate in a cameo appearance as the second Oompa Loompa in the infamous Glasgow Willy Wonka Experience, so we simply have to flog the dead horse here and continue riffing off of that.

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You can take the man out of Glasgow, but you can’t take Glasgow out of the man. (screenshot Lisa Yin Zhang/Hyperallergic via X)

With all the jokes about Middleton’s use of AI image editing tools, it only makes sense for the Unknown, a figment of ChatGPT’s imagination that came to life in Glasgow, to make an appearance in the family portrait. It’s okay if you initially mistook his appearance as the ghost of Prince Philip, though, as both faces could have the same effect on the public

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Meghan Markle stans on X right now (screenshot Lisa Yin Zhang/Hyperallergic via X)

The family portrait is rife with what appear to be Photoshop blunders, and the Princess’s apology didn’t offer much clarity. Dozens of viral TikToks have analyzed the shoddy editing work done to have something to talk about as the Palace hasn’t been very forthcoming throughout.

But all criticisms and speculations about the photo essentially boiled down to this …

The Royal Family: They’re Just Like Us — British Youth Edition. Aside from the presence of both too many or too few fingers and toes throughout, I’m loving the additional fourth child eating its own hand like a snake would eat its prey as well as the eldest kid with a beer can …

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This is actually just a still from Skins UK series 1 … (screenshot Lisa Yin Zhang/Hyperallergic via X)

Look … Have we ever seen Bernie Sanders and Kate Middleton in the same room?

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Someone had to bring the attitude with all of these overly chipper kids around. Plus, the mittens low-key match the other clothes. (screenshot Lisa Yin Zhang/Hyperallergic via X)

Many have pointed out that among the, um, creative liberties Middleton took with the photo, one of them being removing her wedding ring. Girlboss moment, or post-procedural swelling?

The most poignant part of this mess is that the couple could dispel all the rumors and speculation about Middleton’s well-being and whereabouts with a simple unedited photo. But given what has unfolded so far, I’m sure they’ve genuinely considered their frightening renditions at the Krakow Wax Museum as believable stand-ins:

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POV: you miscalculated your edible dosage and now you’re overstimulated and everything sounds like gibberish at your friend’s wedding reception (screenshot Lisa Yin Zhang/Hyperallergic via X)

I’m no Photoshop wizard, but if editing hands is anything like drawing them, then Kate really has her work cut out for her …

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Photo documentation of me drawing fists for the first time as a sixth grader (screenshot Lisa Yin Zhang/Hyperallergic via X)

It’s all fun and games, but the lack of clarity around Middleton’s current status is admittedly rather eerie, and I can understand why rumors are spiraling like nobody’s business since the Palace remains tightlipped about it all.

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A relevant riff off of a truly iconic flyer (screenshot Rhea Nayyar/Hyperallergic via X)

So that really leaves us with one question … Where in the world is Catherine Elizabeth Middleton?

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