The Majesty magazine cover.
A photograph of Prince George at Plunket's royal play
date is the subject of a wrangle over ethics after it was
posted on the internet by a British magazine in an apparently
As shot by freelance photographer Marty Melville, the image
of the 8-month-old Prince shows him holding a wooden bead
framed toy bearing an inscription that identifies it as
belonging to Wellington's Tawa-Linden Plunket Toy Library.
The image has run in numerous publications - both here and
around the world - but it's the image on Majesty magazine's
cover that has caused outrage.
In Majesty's version of the picture, slated for the cover of
its May issue and previewed on the magazine's Facebook page,
the image doesn't contain the hand-written inscription "TLPTL
T157" and an associated crossing-out in black ink.
Nor is there a caption to say that the image has been
London-based Majesty did not respond to Herald inquiries
Melville said, after seeing the Majesty version, that he was
in no doubt it was his picture and that the original showed
He said digitally altering a news picture and not saying so
in a caption was a serious matter. He would raise it with
AFP, the news agency for which he covered the visit last
Wednesday of George and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to
a Plunket coffee group with New Zealand children and their
parents at Government House in Wellington.
"You can crop, adjust levels [of brightness, contrast and
colour-correction], but you cannot add or take away anything
that's in the original photograph," Mr Melville said.
"Agencies take a very dim view if clients download their
photos and then alter them."
Melville couldn't understand why the inscription had to be
removed, saying, "It really didn't distract from the photo."
The British Press Complaints Commission's editors' code of
practice states, under the heading of "Accuracy": "The press
must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or
distorted information, including pictures."
Several British newspapers featured George on their front
pages playing happily with the bead frame, but their pictures
either omitted the wooden base plate which carries the
inscription or blocked out that section of the image with a
smaller one, of Kate cuddling her son.
AFP deputy photo direction for Asia-Pacific Richard Brooks
said Mr Melville took the image on a pool basis. That meant
it was distributed to about a dozen agencies in New Zealand,
Australia and beyond, which are then free to relay it to
their own clients. "So Majesty magazine might have received
it from any of those sources."
He said AFP did not permit any digital alteration to images
in any form, outside the normal, accepted standards of colour
adjustment and cropping.
Toy Library Federation president Ester Romp said toy
libraries and Plunket were excited to see one of their toys
featured with the Prince. She said she was surprised the
inscription had been removed from the Majesty picture.
"Kate had asked for a genuine Kiwi experience. Toy libraries
and Plunket are part of that. We were very proud to be
involved. How the British press use the images doesn't take
away from our experience."
- Martin Johnston of the New Zealand Herald