Staying out of the spotlight. Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles weren’t in attendance at the Princess Diana statue unveiling on Thursday, July 1, but they had a solid reason for keeping away.
“The royals wanted to keep it very personal and not have many family members in attendance since that would be a takeaway from the special moment,” a source tells Us Weekly exclusively. “This wasn’t a last-minute decision; it was decided on a few weeks ago that the other royals wouldn’t be attending. Meghan [Markle] just had her baby, [Duchess] Kate watched from afar with the kids, and same with the Queen. Charles had said he didn’t want to be a distraction.”
Prince William and Prince Harry, who commissioned the statue in 2017, reunited at the event alongside Diana’s siblings, Earl Charles Spencer, Lady Sarah McCorquodale and Lady Jane Fellowes.
“Her sons took the lead in commissioning this statue,” the insider adds. “It was something the Spencer family had to campaign for, so it was only right that those who wanted it the most and put in a lot of effort to get it were there for the unveiling.”
The former military pilot, 36, joined his brother, 39, to pay tribute to the late Princess of Wales on what would have been her 60th birthday. The statue, located in the Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace, came 24 years after Diana was killed in a car crash in 1997 at the age of 36.
The source notes that other members of the royal family will visit the site in the future, but wanted to ensure that Thursday’s unveiling remained an intimate occasion.
“The royals will certainly be visiting at a later time,” the insider explains. “Out of respect for Harry and William, they wanted it to be just about Diana’s sons and not a huge public affair. Kate was definitely supporting William while physically not being there and really wanted to attend, but the family as a whole decided it was best for the kids and her to stay at home.”
Harry returned to the U.K. for the second time this year in order to be present at the monumental event. He arrived in his home country solo last month as Meghan, 39, had recently gave birth to their second child, daughter Lili, on June 4.
A source exclusively told Us Weekly last month that Harry’s trip to England would be a “fleeting visit” unlike his April return for his grandfather Prince Philip’s funeral service. “He’ll be in and out,” the insider said, noting the prince wants to “get back” to his wife and family in Montecito, California.
The Duke of Sussex, who also shares 2-year-old son Archie with Meghan, previously saw his family following the death of the Duke of Edinburgh in April. The queen’s husband was 99 when he passed.
While things have been rocky between Harry and his family since his and Meghan’s 2020 step back as senior royals and relocation to the U.S., he seemed on somewhat good terms with the group upon his departure from the U.K. after the funeral.
However, Harry later sparked more controversy when he compared growing up royal to “a mix between The Truman Show and living in a zoo” during a May appearance on the “Armchair Expert” podcast.
A source told Us at the time that the queen, 95, was “unimpressed” by her grandson’s remarks and “found it hurtful” that he would again speak out against the royals.
After his daughter’s June arrival, a second source told Us that Harry and Meghan are working toward making amends with his loved ones across the pond. “All is not forgiven, but after all the backlash regarding their interviews — which by the way, the pair have no regrets about — they’re trying their utmost to maintain a good relationship with the queen in order to keep the peace,” an insider told Us last month.
The Diana, The Voice of Change author Stewart Pearce exclusively told Us that Diana, on the other hand, would be “thrilled” with Harry’s move to California and his continued efforts to shed a light on all aspects of the royal family.
“She was talking about buying a property in Malibu [saying] that would be ‘really great’ for the boys to have freedom so that they could surf,” Pearce told Us of Diana’s past plans for her two sons. “Because they’re both very sporty, you know, but they could surf, they could roller blade, they could Frisbee. So, she’d be in complete favor.”
The English author explained the couple have used their voice as a “voice of liberation,” which is “exactly what Diana would’ve wanted them to do.” He noted that although some are still “upset” by the pair’s March CBS tell-all and the interviews that have followed, Harry and Meghan are “really taking on so much of what [Diana’s] legacy is, to bring liberation to the disenfranchised, the disassociated, the LGBTQ+ community, [the] Black Lives Matter [and] Me Too [movements].”
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With reporting by Diana Cooper
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