Sovereigns William and Harry put their disparities aside Thursday to unveil a sculpture of Princess Diana, solidifying their late mother’s place in royal history in what could have been her 60th birthday celebration.
Diana’s three relatives joined the brothers for private service at the Sunken Garden in London’s Kensington Palace, a place where the princess once discovered comfort. It was only the second time the brothers had appeared together in broad daylight since Harry had departed from royal duties more than a year earlier.
The sculpture, which shows an overwhelming Diana surrounded by three children, was sent by the brothers in 2017. The style of her dress is meant to summon the last time in her life, when she gained confidence in her compassionate work.
“Today, in what could have been the celebration of our mother’s 60th birthday, we remember her adoration, strength and character, characteristics that made her a power for the great ones around the planet, improving infinite lives,” said William and Harry in a joint proclamation. “We constantly wish that she was still with us, and our expectation is that this sculpture is eternally seen as an image of her life and her heritage.”
The sculpture is “hugely critical” because it highlights the siblings’ drive to depict Diana as someone who partnered with individuals and modernized government, said Robert Lacey, an antiquarian and creator of the Battle of the Brothers: William, Harry and the Inside story of a family in Tumult. Conservatives had scrutinized her for having subverted hundreds of years of customs.
“Sculptures are not very well known or fashionable or even very sensitive things nowadays,” Lacey said. “So the way that Diana, when she’s a revolutionary, the Royal Untouchable, is being raised with her own pedestal and position, says an incredible arrangement regarding the way the British government goes on and on.”
Imperial watchers who were confident that the revelatory service would allow them to understand the territory of William and Harry’s stressed relationship would have likely been frustrated. Video released after the occasion showed the siblings entering the nursery together before chatting with relatives and then pulling two strings to remove the cover from the sculpture.