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. 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. 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. 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
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.