If you've been on any social media site in recent weeks, you'll be aware that there is a growing tide of conspiracy theories regarding the whereabouts of Kate Middleton.

The Princess of Wales has not been seen in public in several months - apart from a grainy pic of her driving with her mother the other day - as Kensington Palace claimed that she is recuperating from 'planned abdominal surgery'.

It hasn't stopped some people from fanatical theorising about her whereabouts, a possible marital split, or some other nefarious reason for her absence from public life.

And yesterday, more fuel was added to the fire after a photo was officially released by Kensington Palace on Mother's Day of Middleton with her three children George, Charlotte and Louis, thanking people for their messages of support. The photo was reportedly taken by her husband, William.

However, eagle-eyed social media users spotted several unusual elements of the photo - not least that Middleton was not wearing her wedding ring, but that there were multiple inconsistencies that suggested it has been photostopped.

This would normally be dismissed as just another example of conspiracy theorists venturing further down the rabbit hole - and it is not beyond the realms of possibility, of course, that several versions of the same photo were taken and later photoshopped to make the best composite - if someone had their eyes closed, for example.

However, a new development emerged overnight when several of the world's biggest photo/news agencies, including Reuters, Getty Images, Associated Press and AFP, have pulled the photo - or 'killed it', in industry speak - due to concerns that it has been manipulated, specifically noting an "inconsistency in alignment of Princess Charlotte's left hand".

Kensington Palace have not commented, but that hasn't stopped social media from spiralling...