The statue — which was originally commissioned in 2017 on the 20th anniversary of her death — was revealed at an afternoon ceremony on what would have been Diana’s 60th birthday.
The brothers then walked over to statue draped in a green covering before pulling away the cloth to reveal their mother’s image cast in bronze. The pair took a few moments with one of their aunts to admire the new installation before rejoining other guests. Neither the Duke of Cambridge nor the Duke of Sussex gave a speech during the ceremony.
Prince William, Duke of Cambridge (left), and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, unveil a statue of their mother, Princess Diana, at The Sunken Garden in Kensington Palace, London on July 1. Credit: Dominic Lipinski/Pool/AFP/Getty Images
William and Harry paid tribute to Diana in a joint statement released through Kensington Palace following the low-key event, saying: “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,” they continued before thanking the team and donors involved in the long-awaited project.
A gardener undertakes final preparations for the space ahead of the statue unveiling. Credit: Aaron Chown/PA Images/Getty Images
The highly anticipated engagement was 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 a car crash in 1997.
While much has been made of the pair’s fractured relationship, the two seemed at ease during the event, warmly greeting guests and sharing jokes with the small group of attendees.
Kensington Palace said: “The figure of Diana, Princess of Wales is surrounded by three children who represent the universality and generational impact of The Princess’ work.
“The portrait and style of dress was based on the final period of her life as she gained confidence in her role as an ambassador for humanitarian causes and aims to convey her character and compassion,” the palace statement added.
An extract from the poem “The Measure of a Man” — which featured in the 2007 memorial service for the princess — is engraved on a paving stone in front of the statue.
Diana on a ski vacation with her two sons, William (left) and Harry (right) in 1993. Credit: Jayne Fincher/Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images
Rank-Broadley, whose previous work with royals includes an effigy of the Queen on UK coins, called Diana “an icon who touched the lives of people right around the world.”
The artist said it was “a privilege” to collaborate with William and Harry on the piece, in which they aimed to “capture her warmth and humanity while showcasing the impact she had across generations.”
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.
Work began at the location back in October 2019 and since then five gardeners have spent a total of 1,000 hours working on the space.
More than 4,000 flowers were 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.”
The brothers unveil the statue they commissioned on the 20th anniversary of Princess Diana’s death. Credit: Dominic Lipinski/Pool/AP
Brotherly bonds broken
William and Harry arrive for the statue unveiling on what would have been their mother’s 60th birthday. Credit: Yui Muk/AP
In the years since the statue was commissioned and Harry’s candid confession, their fractured relationship has only deteriorated further. 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, was not 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.