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William calls Kate the "arty one" amid photo scandal, as he and Harry keep their distance at Princess Diana event

Prince William appears at event amid rumors
Prince William appears at event as rumors swirl 02:42

London — Not even an event honoring the late Princess Diana could bring her estranged sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, back together this week. At the 25th annual Diana Legacy Awards, honoring young global change makers in London, the two brothers clearly kept their distance Thursday night — in both time, appearing hours apart, and in place, as they were half a world away from each other.

William, the Prince of Wales, attended in person and celebrated the 20 winners, whom he lauded as prime examples of "my mother's belief that young people can change the world."

"She taught me that everyone has the potential to give something back, that everyone in need deserves a supporting hand in life," William said of his late mother.

The Prince Of Wales Attends The Diana Legacy Awards
William, the Prince of Wales, attends The Diana Legacy Awards at the Science Museum in London, March 14, 2024. Getty

Hours later, long after his brother had departed the event, Harry congratulated this year's Diana Award recipients, via video from his home in California.

He said his mother would be "incredibly proud" of the humanitarian work the winners, who were from 13 nations including the U.K. and U.S., are doing.

"Thank you very much for inspiring so many others and, at the same time, protecting my mother's legacy. I really appreciate that," said Harry.

The last time the two brothers were seen side-by-side was September 2022, just after their grandmother Queen Elizabeth II died. They were also both at the queen's funeral, and at their father's coronation in 2023, but not in close proximity.

"The rift is ongoing. They work separately in terms of those things," veteran journalist and royal commentator Roya Nikkhah told CBS News on Friday after attending the Diana Awards ceremony. "It's a great shame that William and Harry can't unite in person for something like that, but it's been going on for a while. Nobody expects anything different."

The British monarchy has fallen under uncomfortable scrutiny over the past week. 

Before the award ceremony on Thursday, William casually spoke at another event about his wife Kate, the Princess of Wales, just three days after she apologized for editing a family portrait that was posted to the couple's official social media accounts to mark Britain's Mother's Day.

The Prince Of Wales Visits OnSide Youth Zone WEST
William, the Prince of Wales, interacts with young people during a visit to WEST, a new youth center in London, England, March 14, 2024. Frank Augstein/Getty

"My wife is the arty one," William told children at an opening event for a youth charity center.

Those words, and their timing, raised eyebrows and drew some ridicule coming just days after major global news agencies issued rare "kill" orders to take the princess' photo off their servers due to the digital doctoring. The global news director of France's AFP news agency said Kensington Palace was no longer a trusted news source, going so far as to compare Kate's photo to media presented by North Korea's state-run media outlets.

The last time Kate was seen in public was Christmas Day, before her still-unspecified abdominal surgery in mid-January.

Manipulated royal photo draws global scrutiny 05:16

Kensington Palace said then and has since stressed that she is not expected to return to her public duties until after Easter. "We are so used to having steady, dutiful royal family, even with the recent rifts, that when there are absences, what rushes to fill the void is speculation," said Nikkhah. "But it's not been a great week for them."

For Britain's royal family, Easter probably can't come fast enough.

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