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Why Wasn’t Princess Kate Wearing Her Engagement Ring or Wedding Band in *That* Photo? Kensington Palace Explains (Kind Of)

 Kate Middleton.
Kate Middleton.

In a move that was likely intended to stop endless internet chatter and speculation, one photo taken of the Princess of Wales and her three children Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis has ignited an entirely different kind of controversy.

Amongst the endless chatter surrounding Kate’s now-infamous Mother’s Day photo is the question “Where is her engagement ring and, while we’re at it, where is her wedding band?” Even before news agencies like Reuters, AP, and Getty pulled the photo last night citing digital manipulation, social media was aflutter over the missing ring. Though Kensington Palace apparently has no plans to release the original, unedited photo of Kate and the kids from yesterday, it did have time to address the question of the missing ring—and it’s a simple explanation, The Mirror reports.

“Kate’s office simply responded to questions about her ring by stating the royal was ‘at home’ when the photo was taken and dismissed any speculation about her marriage to Prince William by confirming ‘it was her husband who took the photo,’” The Mirror writes, citing a report from ITV News.

It’s worth pointing out, too, that (didn’t know if you’d heard this or not, but) Kate also recently underwent abdominal surgery in January “and may have had to remove her wedding band ahead of the procedure, and simply hasn’t put it back on yet,” The Mirror writes. (Her surgery, for anyone keeping score, was 55 days ago.)

The wedding ring was one of many perceived errors spotted in the photo, and multiple news agencies issued separate “kill notices” to media organizations globally, confirming they had each removed the image over claims it had been manipulated.

Princess Kate apology
Princess Kate apology

Kensington Palace is under increased pressure to explain not just the photo but Kate’s overall condition. Following the unexpected surgery on January 16, a statement was released the next day confirming it happened and that Kate would be off royal duty until essentially April. (They specified until after Easter, which this year falls on March 31.) The last time Kate had been seen publicly prior to the announcement was Christmas Day, alongside the rest of the royal family at Sandringham.

Prince Louis and Kate Middleton
Prince Louis and Kate Middleton

At the end of February, right around the time William unexpectedly pulled out of attending a memorial service for his godfather, King Constantine of Greece, rumors, speculation, and conspiracy theories about Kate’s health skyrocketed on the internet and social media. Coincidence or not, Kate was spotted by paparazzi out driving with her mother, Carole Middleton, last Monday, March 4—the first time she’d been seen publicly since Christmas Day, 70 days prior. When the buzz didn’t die down, the Mother’s Day photo was released yesterday and—you know the rest.

“This is bad for the royals,” royal commentator Peter Hunt said, per The Mirror. “They knew there would be a lot of attention in any pictures they released of Kate. Their concern is that people will now wonder if they can be trusted and believed when they provide the next health report.”

The saga continues.