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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's photographer hits back at reports claiming he doctored their pregnancy announcement picture

meghan markle prince harry pregnancy one-time image
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex's 2021 pregnancy announcement.Misan Harriman; Copyright owned by The Duke and Duchess of Sussex © 2021
  • Misan Harriman photographed Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's 2021 pregnancy announcement.

  • Harriman called a tabloid report claiming he doctored the photo "insidious" and "unacceptable."

  • Royal photos face increased scrutiny amid drama surrounding an edited picture of Kate Middleton.

Royal photographer Misan Harriman quashed tabloid reports that he doctored Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's 2021 pregnancy announcement photo in a series of posts on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Wednesday.

The reports come amid controversy surrounding a photo of Kate Middleton released by Kensington Palace on Sunday. After initially sharing the image, photo agencies released kill notifications and refused to continue distributing the image due to concerns it had been manipulated. Subsequently, older royal photos have come under new scrutiny.

On Tuesday, the Daily Mail published an article claiming Harriman admitted in a 2022 podcast interview to adding trees to his 2021 photo, which shows Harry and Meghan sitting on the grass in the garden of their California home. Another British tabloid, The Sun, published a similar story.

On the episode of the "Private Passions" podcast produced by BBC Radio 3, Harriman discussed conducting the photo shoot remotely through an iPad, which he said was a common practice during that period of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"They weren't actually under a willow tree, but they were lying outside in a meadow, weren't they, Harry and Meghan, when you took the photograph of them?" podcast host Michael Berkeley asked Harriman.

"Yeah, they were lost in their love at home in their garden, comfortable, celebrating new joy, new life, the fortitude of hoping for life in life after such loss that they went through with the miscarriage," Harriman said in the interview. "So it really was a particularly joyous image to celebrate life itself."

In a video posted to X on Wednesday, Harriman said he had attempted to pivot away from "leading questions" about Harry and Meghan on the podcast and called claims that he had manipulated the photo "crazy."

"How that exchange could amount to me admitting to doctoring an image is insidious and really dangerous journalism," he said. "Any mention of meadows and willow trees came out of the person doing the interview, not my mouth. I did my best to ignore it and focus on what I wanted to talk about."

Harriman continued: "To see an article saying, as fact, that I did what I did not do is extraordinary to me, and then to try to merge it with this current news cycle of what's happening is tragic to see."

Harriman even shared the original photo — without the final black-and-white grade — and metadata in another post on X.

Representatives for the Daily Mail and Harriman did not respond to questions sent by Business Insider ahead of publication.

After Harriman's X posts, the Daily Mail revised its article on Wednesday, writing that the photographer had clarified "he did not edit the photograph aside from to change the color to black and white."

The Kate Middleton photo drama has prompted increased scrutiny of royal images

On March 10, Kensington Palace released the first official photo of Kate since her abdominal surgery and months-long absence from public appearances.

Several issues with the image generated widespread speculation that it had been digitally altered or generated by artificial intelligence. Multiple photo agencies, including the Associated Press, Reuters, and Agence France-Presse, released kill notifications advising media outlets not to publish the photo.

In a statement signed by Kate and posted to Kensington Palace's X account on Monday, the Princess of Wales apologized for the "confusion" the photo caused, saying, "Like many amateur photographers, I do occasionally experiment with editing."

The statement did little to quell the internet memes and conspiracy theories regarding the princess' condition and whereabouts.

The proliferation of AI image generators has made it difficult to distinguish between untouched photos, doctored images, and completely AI-generated creations. As Business Insider's Hasan Chowdhury and Beatrice Nolan reported, AI detection tools are still unreliable, resulting in increasing mistrust of online content.

Now, even royal photos taken years before artificial-intelligence tools became widely available are being viewed with suspicion.

Read the original article on Business Insider