Prince Harry and William stood shoulder to shoulder as they appeared in public together for the first time since April to unveil a statue in honour of their mum Princess Diana.
The Duke of Cambridge and the Duke of Sussex’s troubled relationship is well documented, but their mother was their main focus as they reunited on what would have been her 60th birthday.
The royal brothers made no speeches during the ceremony, but later said in a joint statement: “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.
“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.
“Thank you to Ian Rank-Broadley, Pip Morrison and their teams for their outstanding work, to the friends and donors who helped make this happen, and to all those around the world who keep our mother’s memory alive.”
The figure of the princess in the Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace is surrounded by three children and depicts Diana in the later years of her life.
Kensington Palace said it aims to reflect Diana’s “warmth, elegance and energy”, while the children represent the “universality and generational impact of the princess’s work”.
In front of the statue is a paving stone engraved with an extract inspired by the poem The Measure Of A Man: “These are the units to measure the worth of this woman as a woman regardless of birth. Not ‘What was her station?’ but ‘Had she a heart? How did she play her God-given part?”‘
It was commissioned by William and Harry in 2017 – the 20th anniversary year of Diana’s tragic death alongside her boyfriend Dodi Fayed during a trip to Paris.
Diana’s sister, Lady Sarah McCorquodale, was a member of the six-strong committee tasked with commissioning and privately raising funds for the creation of the statue, alongside Julia Samuel, a godparent of Prince George, who was a close friend of the princess.
It was chaired by Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, the brothers’ former principal private secretary, and its members advised on the selection of the sculptor and worked with Historic Royal Palaces on the statue’s installation.
Covid restrictions had reduced the number of guests to just 13 and most were gathered between the garden’s side entrance and the statue, erected at the end of a large rectangle ornamental pond.
A royal source said: “Plans have been scaled back due to the current Covid-19 restrictions and media arrangements reflect both the size and tone of the event.”
William and Harry chatted to their uncle and aunts when they first arrived, walking into the immaculate garden together ahead of the brief ceremony.
Ian Rank-Broadley, who has a long track record of creating images of the royal family, was chosen to sculpt it, and was among the invited guests, along with garden designer Pip Morrison.
The artist 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.
“We wanted to capture her warmth and humanity while showcasing the impact she had across generations. I hope that people will enjoy visiting the statue and the Sunken Garden, and taking a moment to remember the princess.”
Crowds gathered outside the gates of Kensington Palace with photos and flags as they paid a unique tribute to ‘People’s Princess’ on what would have been her 60th birthday.
Ahead of the unveiling event, Harry — who stepped back from his royal duties in early 2020 with wife Meghan, 39 — got emotional during a virtual appearance at the Diana Award ceremony, which was set up in memory of the Princess of Wales.
“Later this week, my brother [William] and I are recognising what would have been my mum’s 60th birthday, and she would have been so proud of you all for living an authentic life with purpose and compassion for others,” the Duke of Sussex said on Monday.
On Thursday, The Diana Award tweeted: “Today we stand alongside The Dukes of Cambridge and Sussex as they celebrate the legacy of their mother, Diana, Princess of Wales.”
The ceremony was announced last summer in a rare joint statement issued by the brothers.
It read: “The statue that Prince William and Prince Harry have commissioned to commemorate their mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, will be installed next year on what would have been her 60th Birthday.
“The statue was commissioned to mark the 20th anniversary of her death and recognise her positive impact in the UK and around the world.
“The statue will be installed in the Sunken Garden of Kensington Palace on 1st July 2021, marking the Princess’s 60th birthday.
“The Princes hope that the statue will help all those who visit Kensington Palace to reflect on their mother’s life and her legacy.”
Prince Harry and William last saw each other in April, at the funeral of their grandad Prince Philip.
Following the birth of their daughter Lilibet, Harry’s wife Meghan Markle remained in California to look after the newborn and two-year-old Archie.
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