July 2, 2021
Britain’s Prince William and Prince Harry reunited on July 1 to unveil a statue of their mother, Princess Diana, outside the palace she once called home on the occasion of what would have been her 60th birthday, NBC News reports.
Yet, for many, catching a glimpse of the statue in the gardens of her former home in London’s Kensington Palace, took second place to looking for clues about the state of the relationship between the two royal brothers.
Reports of a rift between the siblings have swirled in the British press since 2018, and Harry has previously said that he and William had “been through hell together,” but were now on “different paths.”
It was only the second time the brothers have been seen together in public since Harry and his wife, Meghan, stepped back from their roles as senior royals last year. Harry’s last visit to the United Kingdom was in April for the funeral of his grandfather, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, who died at age 99.
Like-minded in their grief for their mother, who was killed in a Paris car crash in 1997, the brothers unveiled the figure of Diana, which showed her surrounded by three children who represent “the universality and generational impact of the princess’ work,” Kensington Palace said in a statement.
“The statue aims to reflect the warmth, elegance, and energy of Diana,” the Palace added.
Beneath the statue is a plinth engraved with her name and the date of the unveiling and a paving stone with lines of poetry.
The brothers commissioned British sculptor Ian Rank-Broadley to undertake the project. His effigy of Queen Elizabeth II already appears on British coins.
“Today, on what would have been our mother’s 60th birthday, we remember her love, strength, and character—qualities that made her a force for good around the world, changing countless lives for the better,” William and Harry said in a rare joint statement.
“Every day, we wish she were still with us, and our hope is that this statue will be seen forever as a symbol of her life and her legacy.”
Harry, Duke of Sussex, and William, Duke of Cambridge, were joined at the unveiling by Diana’s siblings, Earl Spencer, Lady Sarah McCorquodale, and Lady Jane Fellowes, along with other close family members. The statue’s sculptor and the garden’s designer were also in attendance.
Outside, fans lined up with flowers, signs, birthday balloons and flags.
According to NBc News, the statue was placed in the area known as the Sunken Garden, one of Diana’s favorite locations, according to Kensington Palace. It’s also where Harry and Meghan posed for photos after their engagement in November 2017.
The garden was recently redesigned and replanted with 4,000 flowers—including roses, lavender and forget-me-nots, the palace said in a statement.
Diana lived at Kensington Palace during and after her tumultuous marriage to Prince Charles, and raised William and Harry there. It is now home to William’s family.
The brothers commissioned the statue of their mother in 2017 to mark the 20th anniversary of her death. However, it’s far from the only way they have invoked her memory.
Since his departure from the U.K., Harry often has called on his mother’s legacy. He displayed a photo of himself as a child on his mother’s shoulders prominently on his Archewell website, saying that he is “his mother’s son” and stated in a recent Apple TV+ documentary “The Me You Can’t See” that his mother would be proud of him “living the life she wanted for herself.”
Meanwhile, in May, William made a rare emotional statement following a BBC investigation that found the journalist Martin Bashir had used “deceitful behavior” to secure a landmark interview with Diana in 1995—wherein she famously said “there were three of us in this marriage,” referring to Camilla Parker Bowles, who would go on to marry Charles in 2005.
William and Harry’s father, Charles, the heir to the throne, did not join them at the event Thursday, nor did their wives.
The sculptor, Ian Rank-Broadley said: “Diana, Princess of Wales was an icon who touched the lives of people right around the world, so it has been a privilege to work alongside Prince William and Prince Harry on this statue which commemorates her life.
Research contact: @NBCNews