Prince Harry is back in London. On Friday, June 25, the former royal flew to the U.K. for the first time since April 2021, when he attended the funeral of his grandfather Prince Phillip. He will remain in the country for a July 1 ceremony honoring his late mother, Princess Diana, during which a memorial statue will be unveiled at Kensington Palace’s Sunken Garden. The date will mark what would have been the Princess of Wales’s 60th birthday.
Meghan Markle did not join her husband on the trip. Instead, she remains home in Montecito, California, with the couple’s two children, 2-year-old Archie Harrison and their newborn daughter Lilibet Diana, born June 4.
Prince Harry and his brother Prince William originally announced the statue’s commission in a joint statement in January 2017: “It has been 20 years since our mother’s death and the time is right to recognize her positive impact in the U.K. and around the world with a permanent statue. 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.”
Prince Harry was one of several members of a committee formed to develop a fitting tribute for the 20th anniversary of Princess Diana’s death. The group also included Prince William; one of Diana’s sisters; some friends; and several charity contacts and experts, according to PEOPLE. Together, they commissioned sculptor Ian Rank-Broadley, the original creator of the Queen Elizabeth II silhouette that adorns all British coins since 1998.
“The statue will be installed in the Sunken Garden of Kensington Palace on 1st July 2021, marking The Princess’s 60th birthday,” the palace announced in a statement last year. “The Princes hope that the statue will help all those who visit Kensington Palace to reflect on their mother’s life and her legacy.”
The unveiling comes during an interesting moment in the brothers’ lives, as this is only the second time Prince Harry has returned to the U.K. since he and Meghan stepped back from their royal roles in 2020. It is also only his second visit since the couple’s bombshell interview with Oprah aired in March 2021, during which the Duke and Duchess of Sussex called out the palace on its racism. A source close to Harry told Harper’s Bazaar after the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral that reconciliation between Harry and William was not accomplished during the event, although the two were seen chatting that day.
A royal insider told Us Weekly that “the only topic they discussed” before the funeral was Diana’s statue.
Although Meghan is unable to attend the statue unveiling, Prince William’s wife Kate Middleton reportedly plans to be in attendance. “The Duchess has seen this project evolve from its conception and now to the finished article and undoubtedly wants to be there to support her husband,” a royal source told The Mirror. “No doubt there will be tensions between the Cambridges and Harry, but they all recognize that despite the obvious and deep rooted issues between them, they want the day to be solely about the Princess of Wales’s enduring legacy.”
The unveiling will take place in Kensington Palace’s Sunken Garden, said to be one of the late princess’s most beloved spots on the grounds.
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