Princes William and Harry will put aside their differences to appear together Thursday to unveil a statue honoring their mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, in the Sunken Garden of Kensington Palace.

The statue will be revealed at an afternoon ceremony on what would have been Diana’s 60th birthday, with members of her close family joined by others involved in the project. Statue sculptor Ian Rank-Broadley — whose effigy of the Queen appears on UK coins — and garden designer Pip Morrison will be among the guests as well as members of the statue committee.

A gardener undertakes final preparations for the space ahead of the statue unveiling.

A gardener undertakes final preparations for the space ahead of the statue unveiling. Credit: Aaron Chown/PA Images/Getty Images

The highly anticipated engagement is the first time the brothers have been seen together publicly since the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral in April. William and Harry lived at Kensington Palace with their mother before she died in car crash in 1997.

Diana’s sons co-commissioned the piece in 2017 — the 20th anniversary of her death — as they wanted to recognize the impact of her life with a permanent statue.

“Our mother touched so many lives. We hope the statue will help all those who visit Kensington Palace to reflect on her life and her legacy,” the pair said in a joint statement announcing the project. They had hoped to unveil the statue that same year, but the project was delayed.

Diana on a ski vacation with her two sons, William (left) and Harry (right) in 1993.

Diana on a ski vacation with her two sons, William (left) and Harry (right) in 1993. Credit: Jayne Fincher/Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images

One of Diana’s favorite locations

The layout and planting scheme surrounding the new statue was drawn up by Morrison and produced by the Garden and Estates team at Historic Royal Palaces (HRP), a charity that manages several royal properties.

Morrison incorporated existing historic structures of the garden with deep flower borders and a generous lawn around the pool “to create a calmer and more reflective setting for the statue,” according to Kensington Palace.

More than 4,000 flowers have been selected for the project including some which were known to be favorites of Diana such as forget-me-nots, as well as spring and summer blooms in various pastel hues such as tulips, dahlias and lavender plants.

The newly redesigned Sunken Garden is pictured in this image supplied by Kensington Palace.

The newly redesigned Sunken Garden is pictured in this image supplied by Kensington Palace. Credit: Kensington Palace/Getty Images

Ahead of the unveiling, Morrison said in a Kensington Palace statement that “this has been a very special project to work on, as the Sunken Garden was a favourite place of Diana, Princess of Wales.” He added that the team focused on a creating a space that would flatter the new artwork and provide a calming space for visitors.

Graham Dillamore, HRP deputy head of gardens and estates, said in the same statement that Diana “regularly admired the changing floral displays in the Sunken Garden” and often stopped to talk with the gardeners who cared for it.

“Over three decades later, I’m honoured to have been part of the team preparing the garden for the installation of this statue,” he continued, adding “I hope that visitors to the palace and gardens will enjoy its peaceful setting, and take a moment to reflect on the life and legacy of the Princess.”

Brotherly bonds broken

Returning to the gardens of their childhood home will be a poignant moment for the brothers and comes at a time when the royal family is under intense pressure.
A possible estrangement between the two had been speculated on in the media for years but Harry finally confirmed their relationship had diverged in a 2019 documentary. “We are certainly on different paths at the moment,” Harry said, adding: “But I will always be there for him, and as I know he will always be there for me.”
The two will undoubtedly put on a united front at the Thursday ceremony but there is no denying that since that candid admission their fractured relationship has only got worse.

In the years since the statue was commissioned, Harry has married and started a family with wife Meghan. The brothers then split up their joint Royal Foundation. And the Sussexes have since opted to relocate to a different continent to escape the endless media intrusion they say they faced, as well as their experience of racism within the royal family and a lack of support from the royal household.

Things do not seem to have improved between the brothers, who are barely on speaking terms, and the wider royal family in the wake of the Sussexes’ explosive interview with Oprah Winfrey in March.
In a subsequent podcast appearance, Harry spoke further about his royal upbringing describing it as a cycle of “pain and suffering” before appearing to disparage his father’s parenting efforts.
William and Harry were last seen together at their grandfather's funeral in April.

William and Harry were last seen together at their grandfather’s funeral in April. Credit: Gareth Fuller/WPA Pool/Getty Images

Where’s the Queen this week?

A return to UK soil will likely be trying for Harry who recently disclosed in his AppleTV+ series that London was previously a mental health “trigger” for him following his mother’s death.

But he has been keeping busy since touching down in the British capital late last week. The United States is on the UK’s “amber” list meaning that he had to quarantine on arrival and complete a series of negative Covid-19 tests to release himself.

Once cleared, Harry made a beeline to surprise sick children with an appearance at the WellChild Awards — a charity of which he is a patron — in Kew Gardens in west London on Wednesday. Before that, while self-isolating at his Frogmore Cottage residence in Windsor, Harry sent a video message to recipients of this year’s Diana Award, an organization that prioritizes young people and change.

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, will not be at the event Thursday and has instead remained in California after giving birth to the couple’s second child Lilibet ‘Lili’ Diana Mountbatten-Windsor just a few weeks ago.

Lili is named after her great-grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, whose childhood nickname was Lilibet, while her middle name, Diana, was chosen to honor her grandmother, the couple said in a statement. Baby Lili is a sister for the couple’s 2-year-old son, Archie Harrison.

Meanwhile, it’s also been a busy few days for William who started the week in Scotland accompanying the Queen for a series of events. The 95-year-old sovereign traditionally assumes a week of engagements in the country towards the end of June or early July each year to celebrate Scottish community, innovation and history.

On Tuesday, the Duke of Cambridge — who is president of the English Football Association — joined thousands of England football fans, including his wife Catherine and son Prince George, at Wembley Stadium to watch the country’s stunning Euro 2020 victory over Germany.

The garden and the new statue of Diana will be free to view during Historic Royal Palaces opening hours.

The Sunken Garden was created in 1908 at the instigation of King Edward VII, in an area of the palace gardens previously occupied by potting sheds and greenhouses. The layout of the garden takes inspiration from the 17th century Dutch style Pond Garden at Hampton Court Palace.

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