The siblings are marking Princess Diana‘s 60th birthday by unveiling a sculpture created in her honour by Ian Rank-Broadley and placed in the remodelled gardens their mother loved all packed with 4,000 of her favourite plants and flowers.
Crowds gathered outside from dawn with Diana’s fans travelling from all over the UK to west London for the poignant commemorative event today, with Harry arriving at 1.45pm – 45 minutes before the grand unveiling – and just after his uncle Earl Spencer arrived with Diana’s two sisters Lady Sarah McCorquodale and Lady Jane Fellowes.
But what had originally been planned as a large celebration to mark her life has now been classed as a ‘private event’ – largely due to bad blood between the brothers and Harry’s determination to control media coverage.
The brothers are said to have barely spoken and have an ‘incredibly strained’ relationship after two years of rows over Harry’s wife and her alleged treatment of staff, the couple’s decision to emigrate to America and the tonnes of ‘truth bombs’ the Sussexes have dropped in TV interviews watched by tens of millions of people around the world.
Harry and Meghan believe they were abandoned by the Royal Family, even accusing them of racism towards Archie and ignoring their cries for help when the Duchess of Sussex felt lonely and suicidal while pregnant in London.
But as if beating Germany wasn’t amazing enough, the England football team appears to have achieved the near unthinkable. For it seems the stunning 2-0 victory has helped bring about a thaw in the icy relations between Princes William and Harry, sparking a flurry of messages between them after the match.
Sources close to their uncle Earl Spencer, who is at today’s statue unveiling, have said that there is a hope that the celebration of their mother’s life and legacy will bring them together again. Prince Charles and the Queen, who is in Scotland, will not attend the Spencer-dominated event.
MailOnline can reveal that the Diana statue has been in situ for more than a week after being lifted into a crate during the early hours of the morning. The much-anticipated sculpture is currently boxed up and hidden away from prying eyes in the Sunken Garden of Kensington Palace.
Omid Scobie, the Sussexes’ preferred royal reporter, has played down the idea of a public reconciliation when they unveil the statue this afternoon.
Harry and William have been working together on the project since 2017 – but Mr Scobie has said they both vehemently believe today is about their mother – and not them. He said: ‘What we will see is two brothers being professional in a moment that is not about them. This is going to be a moment we see them put everything to one side. We will just see professionalism and nothing else’.
The Diana statue has been in situ for more than a week after being lifted into a crate during the early hours of the morning.
The much-anticipated sculpture is currently boxed up and hidden away from prying eyes in the Sunken Garden of Kensington Palace.
Staff were today busy erecting screens to stop members of the public and photographers from trying to sneak a glimpse before the official unveiling later this afternoon.
However, a Palace source said: ‘The statue has been here for more than a week. But it’s inside a crate and cannot be seen.
‘It was lifted into the crate by a crane in the early hours of the morning so that nobody was around and it could be kept secret.
‘The Sunken Garden, where the statue will be unveiled, has been re-landscaped over the last couple of years to be brought back in to line with the Pond Garden at Hampton Court, on which it’s based.
‘The Diana statue is the focal point but the work has cost Historic Royal Palaces quite a bit and it’s been a struggle to pay because of the pandemic, which closed Kensington Palace – and the other HRP sites – to the public for a number of months.’
But the Daily Mail understands they have been in contact in recent days ahead of today’s unveiling of a statue in memory of their late mother Diana. They are even said to have exchanged a few phone messages over England’s win on Tuesday.
While insiders are quick to stress that it is far from a full-scale rapprochement, it is the most positive sign yet that the estranged brothers will be able to put their differences to one side – for today, at least.
‘It is still far from good between them,’ the source explained. ‘But there has apparently been an exchange of messages, particularly about the football, which is a step in the right direction, if only to do honour to their mother.’
William, who is president of the Football Association, attended the match at Wembley with wife Kate and their football-mad eldest son George.
Royal insiders have also told the Mail that Harry, 36, has been told how much the family had been hoping to see his two-year-old son Archie again and look forward to his return to the UK soon. It is believed the Cambridges have seen Archie only once or twice since he was born.
The statue unveiling is three and a half years overdue, in large part due to the collapse in relations between the brothers.
William, 39, is known to be deeply hurt and angry at the way Harry ‘pressed the nuclear button’ not just on his relationship with the monarchy, but the family itself.
One impeccable source said they ‘highly doubted’ that the two brothers would ever regain ‘even a semblance’ of the closeness they once enjoyed.
‘Too much water has gone under the bridge for that,’ they said. ‘Harry and Meghan’s decision to burn so many bridges behind them and make such terrible allegations against their family in that infamous Oprah interview, knowing they will never be in a position to defend themselves, has taken its toll. What little trust there was has been well and truly destroyed.’
But the source acknowledged there may be some hope the brothers could eventually paper over their schism, enough at least for their children – who are cousins, after all – to develop some sort of long-distance relationship.
‘It would be a great shame if Archie and Lilibet never really got to know George, Charlotte and Louis,’ they admitted.
But since Harry’s 2018 wedding to his American actress wife, relations between them have soured and an explosive interview that the couple gave chat show host Oprah Winfrey in March marked a new low.
In it, Harry, now 36, criticised his father Charles and said William, 39, and the family were trapped, while the couple accused one unnamed royal of making a racist remark.
Biographer Mr Lacey said in April the brothers quarrelled in the immediate aftermath of the funeral of Prince Philip, their grandmother Queen Elizabeth’s husband of more than 70 years, and there was no sign of any improvement.
‘The conflict between Diana’s two bitterly divided sons does not seem likely to end any time soon,’ he wrote in the Daily Mail, adding that friends and family were trying to forge a reconciliation.
This week’s unveiling in London of the statue, which the princes commissioned four years ago to celebrate Diana’s life, provides a rare opportunity for such a rapprochement, with Harry returning from his new home in the United States.
‘Unless one of them is going to say sorry, and I think that probably has to be Harry, I can’t see this relationship at the moment mending itself,’ royal commentator Penny Junor said.
‘My understanding is the boys are not speaking to one another, certainly not in the way brothers normally speak,’ she said.
Harry told Winfrey their relationship was ‘space at the moment’, but hoped time would heal it.
‘I love William to bits, he’s my brother, we’ve been through hell together and we have a shared experience. But we’re on different paths,’ he said.
The Daily Telegraph reported that William would take his wife Kate and their three children George, Charlotte and Louis, for a private viewing of the statue before its official unveiling as they will not be present on the day.
The Diana Award recognised dozens of recipients who have achieved remarkable change and carried out inspirational work in the past year.
Among the winners were Mashal Aamir, from the University of Glasgow, who works to equip women living by the Pakistan-Afghanistan border with economic skills to increase their independence.
She continues to empower marginalised voices through her writing and collaborations, while training to be a barrister.
George Barker, 25, from the Wirral, has been recognised because he has volunteered with Sexpression:UK for the last seven years, working to improve sex education in secondary schools.
He has facilitated fun and interactive sessions in schools to over 300 young people, trained over 100 volunteers to deliver these classes and is empowering young people to make educated, safer choices about relationships and sex.
Tessy Ojo, Chief Executive of The Diana Award, said: ‘We warmly congratulate our new Diana Award recipients from the UK and across the world who are changemakers for their generation.
‘It is especially poignant as we mark what would have been Princess Diana’s 60th birthday. In a year that has seen young people’s lives disrupted by the Pandemic it is even more important that we honour, celebrate but also invest in young people, from across the world, who through their selfless trailblazing efforts have changed lives in their communities.
‘We know by receiving this honour they will inspire more young people to get involved in their communities and begin their own journey as active citizens.’