These Royals Will See the Diana Statue Before the Unveiling, Sources Say
Before the big ceremony, a small group of royals are heading to see the long-awaited statue.
With the drama-plagued unveiling of the statue of Princess Diana less than 24 hours away, Prince William and Prince Harry's widening rift has all but eclipsed what should be a moving occasion celebrating the life and legacy of their late mother. On July 1, what would have been Diana's 60th birthday, a statue commissioned by William and Harry in 2017 will be unveiled in the Sunken Garden of Kensington Palace, where the princes lived with their mother until her tragic death in 1997. William and Harry are hosting a small gathering with the Spencer family and a select group of people involved in the creation of the statue, a pared-down celebration due to COVID restrictions.
But in the days leading up to the highly anticipated ceremony, a number of surprising, last minute changes have occurred as many royal watchers wait to see whether or not Diana's sons can come together at a time when they aren't even speaking. "It's been extraordinary seeing an event that was to be something so positive devolve into another royal family drama," one source told Best Life. "It's hard to imagine how everyone has been coping with the pressure."
As it turns out, there are some royals who have decided to arrange to see the long-awaited statue of Diana privately before the unveiling for deeply personal reasons. Read on to find out who is making sure the public event won't deprive them of a private moment.
William is planning to take Kate and the children to see the statue of Diana ahead of the ceremony.
Before he joins Harry, the Spencer family, and a small assemblage of people involved with the statue project, it's been reported that William and Duchess Catherine will visit Diana's statue privately with Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis before the official unveiling on Thursday. According to several reports, William will bring his family to the Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace (which is also the Cambridges' London home) to see the statue before the public gets its first look at the new installation. (A large box is currently shielding the statue from public view.) That way, they can spend some time privately paying their respects.
According to a report in The Mirror earlier this week, Kate was to attend the official ceremony, but a last-minute change of plans due to an extension of COVID restrictions—which included banning the media and a considerably scaled-down guest list—the duchess is no longer scheduled be at the unveiling. "Now that it's confirmed Harry will be there, Catherine no longer has to go and support William if he were to face this poignant event alone," a source told Best Life. "Because everything regarding the ceremony is changing so quickly, with some new reports that the brothers may spend some time together afterwards, Kate is doing what she did at Prince Philip's funeral, which is to step back and allow the two men time alone."
Last week, Best Life reported Kate would be attending the statue unveiling, acting as "a bridge" between the brothers. But with the new plans for the ceremony, another source concluded, "Catherine has done everything she could to bring William and Harry together. She wants this rift to end because she realizes both brothers need each other, not just to face this moving occasion, but for the future when William becomes King and will need his brother's support. Unfortunately, there's nothing to indicate that's in the cards right now."
Royal sources told Best Life Harry also plans to view the statue of his late mother privately before the ceremony. As of now, nothing has been formally announced.
William has always worked to keep "Granny Diana" alive in the minds of his children.
William's plans to bring his children to see the statue of their grandmother before it is unveiled to the general public "is in keeping with everything he's done to keep Diana's memory alive for them," an insider told Best Life.
In 2017, to mark the 20th anniversary of Diana's death, William shared how he teaches his children about the grandmother they will never know in the documentary Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy. "We've got more photos up around the house now of her and we talk about her a bit," he said. "It's hard, because obviously Catherine didn't know her, so she cannot really provide that level of detail, so I do, regularly putting George and Charlotte to bed, talk about her and just try and remind them that there are two grandmothers, there were two grandmothers, in their lives. So, it's important that they know who she was and that she existed."
This year, on Mother's Day in the U.K., William and Kate posted touching images of George's, Charlotte's and Louis' handmade cards to "Granny Diana." George drew birds flying over a tree on a sunny day with the words: "Dear Granny Diana, Happy Happy mothers day. I love you very much and think of you always, Sending lots of love from George." Charlotte decorated her card with one large heart surrounded by butterflies and flower stickers, writing, "Dear Granny Diana I am thinking of you on Mother's Day. I love you very much." Then, she added these heartbreaking words: "Papa is missing you. Lots of love Charlotte." Louis finger-painted his card and signed his name at the bottom.
"It makes perfect sense that the Duke of Cambridge would want to mark this occasion privately with his wife and children," an insider told Best Life. "He feels this is something that should be done reverently and privately. It should not be overshadowed by any of the other drama that has engulfed the ceremony."
RELATED: The Sweet Ways Prince William Has Taught His Children About Princess Diana.
William and Harry's feud has made planning the ceremony "a nightmare," insiders say.
The rift between William and Harry has led to endless complications in formalizing the ceremony for the unveiling. In the early planning stages, it was agreed upon that there would be one collective speech from the brothers, but now William and Harry will make their own individual statements. After Harry departed for America, the brothers' joint attendance at planning meetings ceased. Sources told Best Life the Duke of Sussex was kept informed via emails and calls from the committee.
The Express has reported that Harry will meet William face to face on Thursday at the ceremony for the first time since April when they were spotted speaking briefly after Prince Philip's funeral. "Nothing has really changed between them in the past year," a royal insider told Best Life. "Now, William and Harry are forced to be together once again during a highly emotional time with a great deal of distance between them. This has been a nightmare for everyone, including family and friends who want to support both William and Harry and are walking on eggshells over how to offer them both support without alienating one or the other."
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Royal watchers say there are significant hurdles to overcome if the brothers were to make a truce.
A source told The Sun that William and Harry have had minimal contact save for some text exchanges, but royal biographer Robert Lacey told Newsweek that Harry is "prepared to acknowledge the role that just sheer temper played at unfortunate moments—notably in the so-called blindsiding early in 2020." However, it may only be the Duke of Sussex who's ready to apologize. Lacey reports Meghan is "sticking to her guns" and William "doesn't seem prepared to concede anything."
Meghan has opted to stay in California with their children, Archie Mountbatten-Windsor, and their newborn daughter, Lilibet Diana Mountbatten-Windsor, rather than attend the unveiling.
Hugo Vickers, another royal biographer, told The Express that he believes "Harry is so under the thumb of Meghan," noting that a reconciliation "is not really possible until he emerges from that." Vickers added: "It's a very unpleasant situation and I don't think it's going to be the right moment this week."
Another source told Best Life, "If there is no progress made after the unveiling, when William and Harry will come face to face over something they planned jointly only four years ago to honor their mother before it all went wrong, it would be very sad. Diana always wanted her sons to be there for each other. This is something Diana would have never imagined happening."
RELATED: Diana Would've Been "Very Disappointed" in Harry for This Reason, Sources Say.
Diane Clehane is a New York-based journalist and author of Imagining Diana and Diana: The Secrets of Her Style.