The Princess Diana statue has been four years in the making but Kensington Palace have finally announced its unveiling and where the public can go to see it.
First commissioned by Prince William and Prince Harry in 2017 on the 20th anniversary of Princess Diana’s death, its aim is to commemorate and celebrate the life of their mother on what would have been her 60th birthday. At the time, the brothers released a statement saying, “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.”
The creation the statue and the redesign of the space where it sits has taken four years to complete – but is now ready for public viewing.
When will the Princess Diana statue be unveiled?
Prince William and Prince Harry unveiled the statue today (July 1), on what would have been Princess Diana’s 60th birthday.
This unveiling is first time that the two brothers have appeared together since they first broke the ice at Prince Philip’s funeral earlier this year in April. Prince Harry, who lives in the US with his wife Meghan Markle and their two children, Archie and Lilibet Diana, flew over to the UK last week to self-isolate with another family member as per Covid-19 rules ahead of the big day.
Members of Diana’s close family, including her brother Charles Spencer, attended the unveiling as well as other people involved in the planning and design of the statue and garden.
Before the ceremony, a source told PA news agency that the event would be smaller due to Covid-19 restrictions. But nevertheless, the “small event” would be a “very personal moment for the family”.
Where can you see the statue?
The statue stands in Kensington Palace’s Sunken Garden which has been redesigned for this purpose.
The Sunken Garden is located in Hyde Park and is open to the public from tomorrow (July 2). Free of charge to visit, be sure to check Kensington Palace’s opening hours before visiting.
The garden was “one of the princess’ favourite locations” when she lived at the palace. This was from 1981 during her marriage to Prince Charles, through her divorce, right up until her death in 1997. As children, Prince William and Harry also lived in Kensington Palace and went to multiple schools in the area.
The redesign of the Sunken Garden has been ongoing since 2019. In the end, the project took five gardeners 1000 hours to complete – all ahead of the statue’s unveiling. It now holds more than 4000 flowers, including forget-me-nots which were famously the Princess of Wales’ favourite flower. Other varieties of flower in the garden are roses, tulips, lavender, dahlias and sweet peas.
The garden also now has a more streamlined design but “retains the historic structures” that were initially there. A statement from Kensington Palace says it also has 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.”
Graham Dillamore is the Deputy Head of Gardens and Estates at Historic Royal Palaces. He said that the princess would often sit in the garden at the palace and comment on the flowers.
“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,” Mr Dillamore said. “We’ve incorporated a number of the Princess’s favourite flowers into the design, and I hope that visitors to the palace and gardens will enjoy its peaceful setting, and take a moment to reflect on the life and legacy of the princess.”
As well as holding huge significance those remembering Princess Diana, the garden also holds importance for Prince Harry. This is where he and wife Meghan Markle first announced their engagement. The couple reportedly chose this location for the event because of its significance for the late Princess Diana. Meghan said at the time that it was important feel Diana “is part of this with us.”
Before the most recent redesign, gardeners completely re-planted the Sunken Garden in 2017. The palace temporarily renamed the space ‘The White Garden’, as gardeners replanted the space with white and pastel flowers. In this instance, the flowers took inspiration from Princess Diana’s dresses and photographs taken by Mario Testino.