Prince William Briefly Mentions Kate Middleton in Speech Honoring Princess Diana

Kate has not been seen publicly aside from in photos since having an abdominal procedure done in early January.

Prince William is continuing his attempt to quell rumors about the whereabouts of his wife, Kate Middleton, by refusing to publicly acknowledge online conspiracy theories. 

On Thursday, the 41-year-old Prince of Wales spoke at the Diana Legacy Awards in honor of his late mother, Princess Diana, and briefly mentioned Kate, 42, while discussing their goal to preserve and protect Diana's legacy. 

"That legacy is something that both Catherine and I have sought to focus on through our work, as have the 50,000 young people who have received a Diana Award over the past 25 years," the next in line to the British monarchy said. 

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Earlier in the day, the elder of Diana's two sons referenced his wife while visiting a facility called "West" -- or "Where Everyone Sticks Together" -- to talk with teens and kids about getting away from chronic technology usage and dependence. During that visit, he discussed non-phone-related activities, where he also mentioned Kate. 

"My wife is the arty one," he said while decorating a cookie with the group. "And my children. My children are more arty than I am." 

William and Kate share three children: Prince George, 10, Princess Charlotte, 8, and Prince Louis, 5. 

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According to Kensington Palace, Kate has been recovering from abdominal surgery since mid-January and is not expected to return to royal duties until after Easter on March 31. The lack of concrete pictures or video evidence of the Princess of Wales' whereabouts -- as well as a recent photoshop fail for a U.K. Mother's Day post -- has created a vacuum for online skeptics to voice their rampant and wild theories.

Kate has been photographed just twice since her January hospitalization, once with her mother on March 4 in the back of a black SUV just outside London. She was next seen with Prince William riding around Windsor, England on March 11. A royal source told ET that Kate was on her way to a private appointment. In the more recent picture, only the side of Kate's face can be seen as she was in the passenger seat. 

The outing occurred just one day after the couple put out a picture of the Princess of Wales with her three children for Mother's Day, which ultimately was pulled by the Associated Press for being "manipulated." Within hours of the photo being released, eagle-eyed followers and fans pointed out several inconsistencies with the picture that indicated the photo had undergone dubious editing. 

In response, Kate issued a statement on X (formerly known as Twitter) explaining the clearly Photoshopped picture -- which sees part of Princess Charlotte's sweater disappear.

"Like many amateur photographers, I do occasionally experiment with editing," Kate wrote. "I wanted to express my apologies for any confusion the family photograph we shared yesterday caused. I hope everyone celebrating had a very happy Mother’s Day. C." 

According to a royal source who spoke with ET, the mom of three wanted to come clean and be transparent when it came to the Photoshop fail. They add that the intention with the photo was to thank the public for their support during her recovery and provide a lovely picture of the children.