William and Harry speak at the Diana Awards

LONDON — If Britain's royal family thought the saga of Kate, Princess of Wales, was over, there were few signs of redemption on Friday after a leading news agency likened the family to North Korea and another royal laughed off good-natured public ridicule.

Meanwhile, both Prince William and Prince Harry spoke on Thursday evening at an awards ceremony in honor of their late mother, Princess Diana — an event that was somewhat overshadowed by the brothers' ongoing feud when William left before Harry began his video speech.

The crisis over Kate's health and altered image has rocked the British royal family, but another European monarch has managed to find the funny side. At an event in the Dutch city of Zutphen on Thursday, a young girl told the country's King Willem-Alexander that she had a photo of him and his family.

“At least I didn't photoshop it!” He said amid laughter from the children's parents.

This belies the seriousness of this crisis to the reputation of the British family.

It emerged on Thursday that Agence France-Presse, one of the news agencies that issued a “kill notice” for Kate’s photo, no longer considered Kensington Palace a “reliable source.”

“Making a manipulated image available for distribution to global media outlets is a serious violation of trust,” news director Phil Chetwynd told NBC News in an email. He added: “The palace was a known and reliable source for the published images” but “we cannot say” that they are a reliable source for the images published after this week’s events.

He said the news agency “still needs further clarification” about what happened to the photo and “we hope we can rebuild that trust over time.”

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The four agencies, AFP, AP, Reuters and Getty, distribute photos and stories to media companies around the world.

In another interview with the BBC, Chetwynd said that “kill notices” were rare, and usually for propaganda purposes from “the North Korean news agency or the Iranian news agency, just to give you some background or context.”

He added that once the agencies realized “there were a lot of problems with the photo”, they worked together and asked the palace for the original, but decided to delete the photo after receiving no response.

A 'kill notice' issued by Agence France-Presse after discovering that a photo of Kensington Palace had been doctored.Prince of Wales/Kensington Palace/AFP – Getty Images

In a statement posted on social media on Monday, Kate said: “Like many amateur photographers, I occasionally experiment with editing” and offered her “apologies for any confusion.” There was no further explanation as to how or why the photo was changed, and the palace confirmed to NBC News that the original photo would not be released.

“Understanding how poorly Kensington Palace handled this gives us an understanding of why it later became such a big deal,” said NBC News royal commentator Daisy McAndrew. “To completely lose control of Catherine and William’s public image is absolutely disastrous.”

For some, anger is overrated. But the reason behind this repercussions is that it speaks to fundamental tensions between the palace, the press, and the public.

Many royal supporters even do this as part of an unwritten agreement: taxpayers fund the monarchy and in return the royals perform various public roles. They range from international soft power ambassadors, participants in occasional lavish weddings to lift the national mood, and fodder for fashion and gossip pages.

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The late Queen Elizabeth II understood this implicit agreement better than most, famously saying: “I have to be seen to be believed,” according to biographer Sally Bedell Smith. In short: Without her public presence, the royal family risks losing its legitimacy.

King Charles III appears to be following this principle, releasing regular photo updates with his recent cancer diagnosis. But Kate hasn't been seen in public since Christmas Day, and the edited photo was the only sighting, other than some grainy, grainy shots of her inside cars.

No further details were provided Thursday night at the Diana Legacy Awards ceremony at the Science Museum in London. William mentioned his wife in passing, saying that his mother's legacy “is something that Catherine and I have sought to emphasize through our work.”

He left ahead of Harry's speech, which he delivered virtually from California.

The brothers have been mired in a high-profile row after Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, left their lives as royals on America's front lines while accusing the family of cruel treatment.

“What should have been a really great event actually turned into a story about the fact that Harry and William don't speak to each other and they no longer have a relationship,” McAndrew said.

Also today, Thursday, Meghan launched a new brand on Instagram, American Riviera Orchard, marking her return to the platform after deleting her social media accounts in 2018 before marrying Harry.

Back in Britain, William made a comment in which he alluded, intentionally or not, to the turmoil caused by his wife's penchant for visual creativity.

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“It's not really that impressive,” he told the children as he decorated cookies while visiting a youth group in west London. “My wife is an arty person.”

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