Archie’s Christening Photos: When Were They Taken & How Much Editing Was Done?

This is a follow up to my various social media posts, on July 8, regarding the camera EXIF data I noticed embedded in the color *family* christening image. That data indicates the photo was taken on May 8, 2019, at 10:56:06 p.m., rather than July 6, 2019, at 11:54 a.m.

IGSussexExif

***

To begin, I reached out to the photographer who took the christening photos, Chris Allerton, and received a response from his office that he was on location, but I was assured that my questions would be brought to his attention when he returned.

That was on July 16. 

I’ve tried following up, since then, to no avail. Therefore, as of now, he has no comment…and we have no official explanation.

So, moving on with what I’ve found on my own…

Thus far, the only *plausible* innocent explanations offered, from others, are that either the camera’s clock battery died on May 8, 2019, at 10:56:06 p.m. OR the date and time on the camera used was not set correctly. 

Outside of that, the only other possible explanations are not so innocent. Chris Allerton (or his staff) may have edited the EXIF data — but there’s no good reason to do that. Or perhaps something happened during the workflow processing — but that, too, suggests the photos existed when the clock, in the processing equipment (computer), was set to May 8, 2019.

After examining other photographs, taken by Chris Allerton, I can find no others that show unreasonable/anomalous original date/time stamps. 

And still others have suggested the EXIF tag, ‘Original Date/Time’, is a reflection of a firmware or software update on the camera — but that is not what the EXIF DateTimeOriginal data indicates. It indicates the time the photo WAS TAKEN. After perusing some photography websites, I found a handy EXIF data viewer, online, that conveniently states that outright. 

NikonEXIF2

 

***That said, EXIF data can be stripped out and even edited, and it’s important to keep that in mind as you read on.***

It’s also been argued that sometime between when the original image was last modified — before Press Associated (PA) made it available for distribution — and when Meghan’s Mirror posted the image they acquiredwhich is roughly ONE HOUR — the EXIF data may have been edited by someone in the chain of custody.

That chain of custody is small…it went from PA directly to Meghan’s Mirror.

I know, because I emailed Meghan’s Mirror for a comment, and was given permission to share their response:

All of our photos are purchased/obtained through licensed photography agencies. This photo, specifically, was obtained from the Press Association directly. While we do edit some of the metadata associated with the photo (for example, the alt-text for SEO purposes), otherwise photos are embedded directly as they are downloaded from the agency per our license. We also indicate the source of photos in the post, stating “PA/Wire”, indicating that they come from the Press Association’s Wire Feed.

In short, I don’t know where speculation may come from (I have not seen any) but I can confirm without reservation.

Please let me know if you have any further questions.

– Amanda
Editorial Director
Meghan’s Mirror

Meghan’s Mirror denies editing the camera EXIF data AND they did NOT obtain the image from someone else who had apparent motive to do so.

***

To continue, in an effort to rule out or confirm that the date issue was merely an issue with the camera’s date/time settings, I tried to locate a version of the B&W christening photo to compare the EXIF data.

I had no luck on July 8.

I had no luck on July 9 and eventually gave up. Multiple people reached out to me and said they, too, could not locate one with the camera EXIF data intact.

Then, on the morning of July 10, I woke up and began the search again.

AND I found one.

It was published sometime in the wee hours of the morning, on July 9, at a Romanian news website:

Screen Shot 2019-07-10 at 8.22.37 PM copy

***

I felt a bit deflated when I viewed the EXIF data and, lo and behold, it bore the EXACT same DateTimeOriginal as the color *family* photo…down to the second:  2019-05-08T22:56:06.

SonyEXIF1c

***

Well, that settles that, eh?

The camera’s clock battery must have died and the date and time was *stuck* on 2019-05-08T22:56:06?

No. That does not explain it…because I ALSO noticed something else…

…the B&W photo was taken WITH A DIFFERENT CAMERA.

The color *family* photo was taken with a NIKON. 

The B&W photo was taken with a SONY.

TwoCameras

***

And I noticed another interesting bit of information in the metadata of the image: the B&W photo indicated it was made available for release on July 7, not July 6 like the color photo. That release information was edited into the metadata.

Moreover, the B&W photo had already been released on July 6th. This was a re-released photo.

Needless to say, this muddied the waters. 

Question: Could the Romanian website — who published their article THREE DAYS AFTER THE CHRISTENING and AFTER the DateTimeOriginal anomaly was already spreading on social mediahave obtained a late-released version of the B&W photo with DateTimeOriginal EXIF data that had been edited to muddy the waters?

So I set out, again, to find the earliest version of the B&W christening photos with the camera’s EXIF data intact.

And I succeeded via the image search engine, TinEye.

Screen Shot 2019-07-20 at 5.41.52 PM

The first version of the B&W christening photo to appear on the internet came from the NBC News website (Today), and was obtained from Getty Images.

And, it still retains the original camera EXIF data.

However, it is missing a reliable ‘Original Date/Time’ stamp. It shows an original date of 2019:07:06, but the time stamp shows 00:00:00.

FirstBWArchieExif

 

Without having an official explanation from Chris Allerton, the only conclusion I can reach is that the color group/family christening photo was inadvertently released with the EXIF data showing it had been taken on May 8, 2019, at 10:56 p.m.

However, before the initial release, the B&W christening photo had been stripped of its original date/time stamp and overwritten to show a date of July 6, and the ambiguous time, 00:00:00.

This begs the question of whether someone — other than myself — caught that the color group/family christening photo EXIF data had been left intact, very quickly, and to obfuscate its importance, the B&W christening photo *had* to be re-released to reflect the same date and time to ‘muddy the waters.’

I can come up with no (other) way to explain why the color photo shows it originated on May 8, at 10:56 p.m.

Muddying the waters is the only damage control *available*…

…unless Allerton or PA falls on their swords and *admits* they are responsible for editing the original camera EXIF data, in the color family/group photo, when there is absolutely no good reason for them to have done that.

Their credibility would be shot.

***

Have the christening photos been edited? If so, what was edited?

Without pouring over every detail, in both the color and B&W christening photos, there are a few obvious signs that the images have been altered beyond EXIF data, metadata, resizing, and cropping.

Highlighting two of the best examples is enough, for me, to conclude that they have, indeed, been ‘photoshopped.’ 

As a graphic designer, in real life, I believe the mantel clock shows the most obvious signs of tampering, in the color photo (although there are arguably other indications).

Fortunately, there is a high resolution image of the Vulliamy mantel clock amongst the online photos of the royal family collection for comparison. Specifically, the brass ring, in which the minutes are notched, has been entirely painted over in the section falling between the ‘VIII’ and ‘X’.

It was so badly done that the surface was given a ‘ridge’/‘lip’ when, in actuality, it is flat with notched minutes:

ClockComparisons

For whatever reason, that area of the clock was altered — there is not a doubt in my mind.

With regard to the B&W christening photo, there are areas within the netting of Meghan’s hat that are far darker than background against which she appears. Below is one section, as a visual aid:

Hat

And Harry’s hair appears to have been worked to *blend* better throughout the areas where it falls in front of the white sky behind it.

Official Photographs From The Christening Of Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor

***

Moreover, I obtained the highest resolution versions of both photos from Getty Images, directly, and ran them through a program called JPEGSnoop. 

The results for the color photo:

JPEGSNOOPNikon

The results for the B&W photo:

JPEGSNOOPSony

***

I wish I could provide you with an explanation from Chris Allerton.

In this social climate where there is rampant distrust in the media, one would prefer to think he would be happy to help shed light on this issue. With all the bellyaching about ‘Fake News’, derision for a skeptical public, and the smearing of anyone who questions official/mainstream news sources as ‘conspiracy theorists’, one would think Allerton would have made an effort to help enlighten the public with what he knows. 

And one would think the media and royal reporters would try to get the facts, too.

Maybe they have and had no luck either.

But even that is a story worth reporting.