Will Kate Middleton and Prince William Share a Birthday Photo for Prince Louis Following Controversy?

Royal watchers are wondering whether the Prince and Princess of Wales will continue tradition next month

<p>The Prince and Princess of Wales/Instagram</p> Kate Middleton and her three children (L-R): Princes Louis, Prince George and Princess Charlotte.

The Prince and Princess of Wales/Instagram

Kate Middleton and her three children (L-R): Princes Louis, Prince George and Princess Charlotte.

Prince Louis celebrates his birthday next month, raising the question of whether Kate Middleton and Prince William will release a new portrait of their youngest son following the Mother's Day photo controversy.

The Prince and Princess of Wales' youngest son will turn 6 on April 23, and The Sunday Times reported that the royal couple is expected to continue their tradition by sharing a new portrait of the young prince in celebration of the occasion.

"They appreciate the public’s love and affection for their children and know there is a public appetite to see them on their birthdays," an aide told the outlet in a story published on Saturday.

However, there is no "firm decision" on whether Princess Kate, 42, will take the picture or tap a professional photographer for the job, sources told The Sunday Times.

Prince William, 41, and Princess Kate have released new photos for the birthdays of their three children — Prince George, 10, Princess Charlotte, 8, and Prince Louis, 5 — since George was a baby. The Princess of Wales, who has previously described herself as an "enthusiastic amateur photographer," has often stepped behind the camera to capture her kids' milestone moments.

<p>Mark Cuthbert/UK Press/Getty</p> Prince Louis and Kate Middleton attend the Christmas Day service on December 25, 2023

Mark Cuthbert/UK Press/Getty

Prince Louis and Kate Middleton attend the Christmas Day service on December 25, 2023

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However, royal portraits are under new scrutiny after the Princess of Wales shared an apology on March 11 for "any confusion" surrounding the Mothering Sunday picture the family released for the U.K. holiday. Hours after the image — which was significant as the first official picture of Princess Kate amid her private recovery following abdominal surgery in January — was released on March 10, multiple global photo agencies including Getty Images, the Associated Press and Reuters pulled the picture from their press libraries due to suspicion of manipulation.

"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," the royal wrote on social media the following day, signed "C" for Catherine to indicate the personal nature of the message.

Amateur sleuths and experts alike identified discrepancies in the shot, which showed Princess Kate seated with Prince Louis, Prince George and Princess Charlotte around her, wondering if it was doctored. Sky News analyzed the metadata of the image file, which was taken by Prince William in Windsor, and claimed to find proof that Photoshop was used.

Sky News said the image was saved twice in Photoshop on an Apple Mac on the night of March 8 and morning of March 9, and the same dates and times were reported by the BBC.

<p>The Prince and Princess of Wales/Instagram</p> Kate Middleton with her three children, Prince Louis, Prince George and Princess Charlotte.

The Prince and Princess of Wales/Instagram

Kate Middleton with her three children, Prince Louis, Prince George and Princess Charlotte.

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A new wave of speculation over another royal family photo came a week later. On Monday, Getty Images announced that Princess Kate’s picture of Queen Elizabeth with some of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, released in April 2023 following her death the previous September, was manipulated.

“Getty Images has reviewed the image in question and placed an editor’s note on it, stating that the image has been digitally enhanced at source,” a Getty spokesperson told The Telegraph.

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With the legitimacy of images released by the royal family now called into question, London-based public relations and crisis communications expert Mark Borkowski tells PEOPLE that such distrust is "damning" for the royal brand.

"The difficulty now is because there is so little information about what’s happening to Kate, if they were going to project things are all normal in this way — with a photo that is now deemed to be fake — it is pretty damning about the floundering and the poor decision making that’s going on," Borkowski said about the Mother’s Day shot.

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