London, Jul 1: Princes William and Harry on Thursday came together at Kensington Palace in London to unveil a new statue in memory of their late mother, Princess Diana, on what would have been her 60th birthday.
A ceremony described as small and intimate was held for the unveiling of the Princess of Wales' memorial statue, which was commissioned by her sons in 2017. At the time, the brothers said they hoped it would allow visitors to reflect on the "life and legacy" of their late mother who died in a Paris car crash in 1997.
"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," read a joint statement by the brothers, recently believed to be somewhat estranged since Harry stepped back as a frontline royal and relocated to the US with wife Meghan Markle and their two children.
"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 said.
"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 statement read in reference to the creators of the memorial.
Diana's brother and sisters also attended the small ceremony but due to the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, many of Diana's friends were unable to attend.
Brothers William and Harry were last seen together when Harry flew into the UK from California for their grandfather Prince Philip's funeral in April. The 36-year-old returned for the ceremony this week at the Sunken Garden in Kensington Palace, which was Diana's home for 16 years after her divorce from husband Prince Charles.
The garden, which sits within London's Hyde Park and will be open to the public to visit for free from Friday, was one of the late princess' favourite places at Kensington Palace, which has been filled with more than 4,000 flowers.
The layout and planting scheme has been designed by Pip Morrison and created by the Gardens and Estates team at Historic Royal Palaces (HRP), led by Deputy Head of Gardens and Estates, Graham Dillamore.
The new design for the garden by Morrison retains the historic structures within a simplified layout of deeper flower borders and a more generous lawn around the pool to create a calmer and more reflective setting for the statue by sculptor Ian Rank-Broadley.
The planting design features a number of Diana's favourite flowers, including forget-me-nots, as well as many other spring and summer blooms in a variety of pastel shades. Work on the garden began in October 2019, and since then five gardeners have spent a total of 1,000 hours working on planting.
"This has been a very special project to work on, as the Sunken Garden was a favourite place of Diana, Princess of Wales. We have worked carefully to ensure that the new layout and planting scheme compliments the statue, providing a calming place for people who visit Kensington Palace to remember the Princess," said Morrison.
Dillamore, Deputy Head of Gardens and Estates at Historic Royal Palaces, added: While she was in residence at Kensington Palace, Diana, Princess of Wales regularly admired the changing floral displays in the Sunken Garden and would always stop to talk with me and the other 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."
To mark the 20th anniversary of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales in 2017, the garden was temporarily renamed "The White Garden" and planted with flowers in white and soft pastel colours, which took inspiration from items from the Princess' wardrobe then on display in the palace.