On what would have been Princess Diana’s 60th birthday, the world watched her sons, Prince Harry and Prince William, unveil a statue of her in the gardens of Kensington Palace today.
Plans for the Princess Diana statue were first announced in January 2017, the year of many commemorations of Diana’s life, as it marked 20 years since she died in a car crash in Paris at age 36.
Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic delayed the installation and an update was released last year.
Harry and William formed a committee made up one of Diana’s sisters Lady Sarah McCorquodale, and their former chief of staff, Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, some friends, experts, and charity contacts to help come up with the fitting tribute to her. They commissioned Ian Rank-Broadley, the sculptor behind the image of Queen Elizabeth that has been used to decorate all British coins since 1998, as the person to create the tribute.
Their former chief of staff, Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton’s role was announced in December 2017 and he released a statement describing how honored he was to get chosen:
“It is my sole and highest intention to fulfill the expectations of Their Royal Highnesses in creating a lasting and fitting memorial to their late mother Diana, Princess of Wales.”
Harry returned to England five days ahead of the unveiling event and stayed in quarantine until testing negative for coronavirus following five days of quarantine.
Royal reporter Omid Scobie shared some tweets yesterday showing us “
a look at some of the work that went into redesigning the Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace to fully showcase the commemorative Princess Diana statue by Ian.”
More than 4,000 flowers was planted — in addition to 200 roses, 100 forget-me-nots (Diana’s favorite flower) and 300 tulips of three varieties, there was 500 lavender plants, 50 sweet peas and 100 dahlias. The project began in October 2019 and workers have spent 1,000 hours perfecting the garden, with a focus on planting Diana’s favorite flowers.
The Sunken Garden was often described as one of Princess Diana’s favorite spots at Kensington Palace. She regularly admired the changing floral displays and would always stop to talk with the gardeners who cared for it.
“Planted in 1908, its grounds previously occupied parts of the castle’s tranquil ornamental gardens and currently models a style of classical gardening that was popular throughout the UK in the 18th century.
The garden is terraced with paving and boasts ornamental flower beds, an ornamental pond with fountains “formed from reused 18th-century water cisterns retrieved from the palace”, according to the official Kensington Palace website, an arched, red-twig lime walk formed from original stock trees, and a series of vibrant, exotic, and colorful plants like geraniums, cannas, and begonias on display throughout the spring and summer.”
You will also recall that Meghan and Harry posed for official press photos at The Sunken Garden after their engagement was announced
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the number of people attending was scaled down. As we all know, Meghan stayed in California with Archie and Lilibeth.
Royal fans flocked to the gates of Kensington Palace to leave flowers, banners and cards.
Prince Harry and William arrived and Harry let out a laugh of appreciation when he saw his mother’s siblings and greeted Lady Sarah McCorquodale kissing her on both cheeks and went on to warmly welcome his aunt Lady Jane Fellowes and uncle Earl Spencer.
Watch them unveil it here:
The statue is 1.25 times life size, making visitors in awe, yet not overwhelmed, by its presence.
An iconic photo:
The statue shows Princess Diana surrounded by three children, symbolizing the late Princess’s charitable, and generational, legacy. (During her life, many of her causes involved helping vulnerable youth, from her work at Great Ormond Street Hospital to her founding of the charity Child Bereavement U.K.)
Diana wears a blouse tucked into a belted pencil skirt. “The 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,” Kensington Palace said in a statement.
Read the statement here:
The paving stone is engraved with a modified extract from the poem “The Measure of A Man” by Albert Schweitzer.
This was printed in the program for Princess Diana’s 2007 memorial service to mark 10th anniversary of her death.
And here is a full clip from today:
The statue is viewable to the public during Kensington Palace’s open hours. It will, as Diana certainly would have wanted to be, free to do so.