A touching tribute. Princess Diana would have turned 60 on Thursday, July 1, and to commemorate the occasion,loved ones and fans gathered to honor her memory at the Sunken Garden of Kensington Palace.
In January 2017, Prince William and Prince Harry announced their plans to commission a statue of their late mother, who died in 1997. The brothers noted in a joint statement at the time, “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.”
After pulling a green cover off the statue to debut it to the world on Thursday, the siblings released a joint statement.
“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,” William and Harry said. “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 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.”
Ahead of the official unveiling on Thursday, a spokesperson for Buckingham Palace told Us Weekly that the princes would be attending the event together, noting, “In addition to close family of Diana, Princess of Wales, members of the statue committee, the sculptor Rank-Broadley, and garden designer, Morrison, will also be present.”
At the time, it was unconfirmed whether Prince Charles, Diana’s ex-husband, or Queen Elizabeth II would be at the ceremony, but Us confirmed on Thursday that they were not in attendance. Three of Diana’s siblings, Charles Spencer, Lady Sarah McCorquodale and Lady Jane Fellowes, meanwhile, were at Thursday’s unveiling, which also didn’t include Duchess Kate or Meghan Markle.
Though William and Harry have been on thin ice with one another in recent years, they have a shared love for their mom and her legacy. Days before the unveiling, the Duke of Sussex surprised the 2021 Diana Awards honorees with a special video message applauding them for their achievements.
“I’m truly honored to be celebrating your work, your commitment to change making and the vital role that you’ve taken on representing a new generation of humanitarianism,” the Archewell cofounder said on Monday, June 28. “Later this week, my brother and I are recognizing what would have been our mum’s 60th birthday. And she would be so proud of you all for living authentic life with purpose and with compassion for others.”
The former military pilot emphasized Diana’s passion for giving back, adding, “Our mum believed that young people have the power to change the world. She believed in your strength because she saw it day in and day out and in the faces of young people exactly like you, she witnessed a boundless enthusiasm and passion.”
William, for his part, spoke candidly about the aftermath of losing his mom during a visit to Scotland in May. He told crowds at the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland that he happened to be at the royal family’s Scottish Balmoral residence when he learned about Diana’s death.
“Still in shock, I found sanctuary in the service at Crathie Kirk that very morning, and in the dark days of grief that followed, I found comfort and solace in the Scottish outdoors. As a result, the connection I feel to Scotland will forever run deep,” the Duke of Cambridge recalled. “And yet alongside this painful memory, is one of great joy. Because it was here in Scotland – 20 years ago this year – that I first met [Kate]. Needless to say, the town where you meet your future wife holds a very special place in your heart.”
Scroll down for a closer look inside the brothers’ emotional memorial to their mother: