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Posted at 10:06 PM ET, 12/14/2010

Photoshop: The royal edition?

By Autumn Brewington

This is one of two official portrait photographs taken on Nov. 25, 2010, and released by the Clarence House Press Office to mark the engagement of Britain's Prince William, left, and Catherine Middleton, right. (AP Photo/Clarence House Press Office/Copyright 2010 Mario Testino, ho). MANDATORY CREDIT, NO SALES , EDITORIAL USE ONLY, NOT APPROVED FOR SOUVENIRS AND MEMORABILIA. THE PHOTOGRAPHS MUST NOT BE DIGITALLY ENHANCED, MANIPULATED OR MODIFIED AND MUST BE USED IN THEIR ENTIRETY

The most surprising thing about the British monarchy's admission today that the recently released engagement photos of Prince William and Kate Middleton had been given "minimal" retouching was that the palace admitted it.

The Associated Press reported that the palace said "the couple's appearance was not altered, but adjustments made were to light balance and contrast because 'the final portraits are works of art,' like the painted portraits made of previous royal generations."

It was, frankly, a little amusing that this admission came after the palace made a point of specifying in its release of the images that "The photographs must not be digitally enhanced, manipulated or modified." (It also called for the names Prince William and Miss Catherine Middleton to be used -- perhaps another attempt at getting the public to stop calling the bride-to-be Kate.)

But this is an institution that often defaults to silence, in an effort to maintain the mystique of the monarchy and to protect the privacy of the royal family. Any openness about what goes on behind the scenes is notable.

I'm not sure, though, why anyone cares if the photos are retouched a little -- or even a lot. These aren't news photographs. And given the opportunity, wouldn't many couples want their likeness captured for posterity as, well, the best possible image of themselves?

It's doubtful that light retouching, or whatever manipulation was done, surprised anyone who knew that the pictures had been taken by fashion photographer Mario Testino -- whose iconic photos of William's mother, Princess Diana, were featured in a long-running exhibition at Kensington Palace and graced the commemorative book sold at the Concert for Diana that Princes William and Harry hosted in 2007 to celebrate what would have been their mother's 46th birthday. Testino's celebrity photographs have appeared in countless magazines and galleries. He's not exactly known for showing people at their worst.

Testino said of photographing the couple last month shortly after their engagement was announced: "I am very happy to have been asked to cover this historic moment that the whole world was waiting for.... They are in their prime and brimming with happiness. I have never felt so much joy as when I see them together."

The more casual, familiar style of these photos -- the couple, who for years were stringently undemonstrative in public, are shown embracing -- was remarked upon over the weekend. (For a look at previous royal engagement photos, see this Daily Mail roundup.)

The photos also sparked a shopping frenzy. Just as Middleton's engagement-announcement dress sold out, the clothes she wore in the Testino photos caused a copy-Kate run on stores and online. Reiss, the label that made her winter white "Nannette" dress has reportedly decided to re-release the dress in its spring collection.

At least to mere mortals watching a fairy tale play out, it's nice to know where the gloss has been added.

By Autumn Brewington  | December 14, 2010; 10:06 PM ET
Categories:  Brewington  | Tags:  Autumn Brewington  
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Comments

Who cares? Can't the WaPo find a war or something to report on????

Posted by: balecox | December 15, 2010 5:48 AM | Report abuse

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