The sources insist the whole interaction was taken out of context from the rest of the TV special, and what most folks didn't see was Will and Kate being very affectionate and close-knit.
The bad optics didn't end there, because as we reported ... William and Kate showed up to the Royal Family's Christmas lunch in separate cars.
We're told the couple rode separately because Prince George and William needed to be at Buckingham Palace 30 minutes earlier for a special event -- which sources say will soon be made public, and explain the whole car situation.
The Cambridge Household family Christmas card this year features The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with their three children, Prince Louis, Princess Charlotte and Prince George on a motorbike and sidecar ❄️🎄 pic.twitter.com/pNg3zPJXqS
The family certainly looks happy in their annual Christmas card. Still ... that's just a moment in time. Remember ... Princess Diana looked happy in her family Xmas card pics, and she was anything but.
The sources we've spoken with have generally been fair and accurate in the past, but we're not naive. There's a lot riding on that marriage, and damage control always looms.