Diana's Friends Fear Harry Could Make This "Unthinkable" Decision Next
"The princess would never have wanted that," an insider says.
Princess Diana would have reached her milestone 60th birthday in July of this year. If she were alive to witness the bitter rift between her sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, she would have been "heartbroken," a Palace source told Best Life.
The princess was extremely close to "her boys," as she called them, and had special relationships with each of them. In his book Diana's Boys: William and Harry and the Mother They Loved, author Christopher Andersen wrote that the princess once said, "William and Harry are my one splendid achievement."
Much of Harry's future relationship with his brother rests on whether or not he returns to the U.K. for a very important event for their late mother. Just a few short years ago, it would have been impossible to believe Harry would miss any opportunity to come to the U.K. to honor Diana. Now, it is a distinct possibility. Some royal experts believe the brothers' fractured relationship and the royals' reaction to Harry at Prince Philip's funeral could compel the Duke of Sussex to make a dramatic decision that would have "devastated" Diana. Read on to find out what would have left Diana shocked and upset as William and Harry are more distant than ever, and for more on where Harry stands, check out These 3 Royals Aren't Willing to Forgive Prince Harry, Says Source.
Harry may not return to the U.K. for the long-awaited unveiling of a statue for Diana.
Prince Harry was reportedly so rattled by the reception he received from the Royal Family when he flew back to the U.K. for Prince Philip's funeral that one royal expert has claimed the Duke of Sussex may bow out of a previously planned upcoming trip. In July, he and William are scheduled to unveil a long-awaited statue of their mother at Kensington Palace in honor of her 60th birthday.
In speaking to talkRADIO, The Daily Mirror's Russell Myers said (via Express), "'I think he may have been a bit shocked by the cool reception he got from his family, which begs the question, will he come back for the unveiling of the Diana memorial with his brother in July? Or will he pull out of that?"
It had been announced in Aug. 2020 that Prince Harry, Duchess Meghan, and their son, Archie Mountbatten-Windsor, would to return to the U.K. this summer for the unveiling of the statue. But that was before it was also announced that Harry and Meghan were expecting their second child. Myers claimed Harry may use the birth of his daughter, who is expected to arrive some time this summer, as a "convenient excuse" not to go to the unveiling and have to "face the family" again.
And for more on the most beloved late figures, find out How Old 100 Iconic Stars Would Be If They Were Alive Today.
Diana's statue was one of William and Harry's last joint projects before the Sussexes departed for North America.
William and Harry announced the commission of the statue in 2017 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Diana's death and recognize "her positive impact" in the U.K. and around the world. At that time, it was decided that the statue would be installed in the Sunken Garden of Kensington Palace on July 1, 2021, marking Diana's 60th birthday. The statue's sculptor, Ian Rank-Broadley, is best known for his portrait of Queen Elizabeth, which has appeared on all coins in the U.K. and Commonwealth since 1998. Despite some delays due to the pandemic, the tribute is set to be completed on time.
It was one of the few joint ventures William and Harry worked on before the Duke and Duchess of Sussex left Britain for North America. A source with ties to the sculptor told The Sun that the princes put their differences aside to complete the project. "It will have been signed off by William and Harry, that much I do know. I know [Rank-Broadley] did work closely with the boys," the insider said.
The Sun also reported that the brothers established a working committee to oversee the sculpting of the statue and after Harry left the U.K., he was kept up to date by receiving photos of the work in progress.
A royal insider told Best Life, "The statue is rife with meaning. It is a permanent tribute to the Princess of Wales for everyone to see, but it also symbolizes her deep connection with her sons, who worked together to see it become a reality. It would truly be heartbreaking to have the occasion marred by bitterness between William and Harry—especially if Harry isn't there. The princess would never have wanted that."
And for more on what she would've done in this case, find out How Diana Would Have Healed William and Harry's Rift, Says Royal Biographer.
The gardens at Kensington Palace were Princess Diana's "sanctuary."
Princess Diana is known to have loved spending time outside in the gardens at Kensington Palace where she would often stop to speak to the staff attending to the plantings.
The princess also found refuge in the gardens during stressful times. In his book The Way We Were: Remembering Diana, Diana's former butler, Paul Burrell, called the garden Diana's "sanctuary." "I never joined the boss in the garden. It was her private time," he wrote. "When that black door swung shut, she was alone, as she wanted to be. Often, she returned to KP with a bunch of roses for her desk."
According to a royal insider, "Diana would have been so moved that William and Harry selected a place that was special to her for the statue. She would want them both there for the unveiling. Any other scenario is unthinkable."
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Diana would've seen both of her sons' sides.
According to royal insiders, Diana would have been "deeply saddened" by her sons' estrangement and shocked by how it has only gotten worse over time. In the past few years, the brothers' seemingly unbreakable bond has been fractured by the events surrounding Megxit and most recently by Harry and Meghan's bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey. Harry aired his long list of grievances with the family and accused them of racism toward his unborn son. William was infuriated by the interview (especially Meghan's allegation that Duchess Catherine had made her cry before her wedding) and saw it as a stunning betrayal. "Diana would have understood how they both felt," said a royal insider. "But she would have seen how this feud would be very damaging to both their futures."
Diana knew just how destructive a royal tell-all interview could be. Her famous sit-down with Martin Bashir, where she revealed there had been infidelity on both sides of her marriage and questioned Prince Charles' ability to reign as king, had proven disastrous and resulted in her divorce and banishment from the Royal Family. A close confidant of Diana's told Best Life, "She would have thought it too soon to do any kind of interview and worried about how it would affect Harry's relationship with the royals. She would also have been greatly concerned for William and his family. She was a monarchist and always believed William would make a great king. Diana would have seen immediately how the Oprah interview could do a lot of damage to the monarchy and its future." And for more on the fallout from the tell-all, read up on The One Way William and Charles "Underestimated" Harry, Says Insider.
There is still some optimism that Harry will be at the statue's unveiling.
Despite Myers' claim that Harry could choose to miss the statue's unveiling, he also said, "I'm told he is still committed to coming." He suggested that if Meghan had recently given birth around the time of the event, "I'm sure [Harry] could jump on a private jet and make a flying visit."
Logistics aside, the decision is still up in the air, considering Harry's stance with the royals. Some royals watchers believe some healing has begun between the brothers after Harry and William were seen talking as they walked back to Windsor Castle after Philip's funeral. The princes, along with Kate, reportedly had a short meeting with Charles after the service. However, there were few signs of a thaw between Harry and the rest of the Royal Family afterwards. One royal source said, "Harry knows he's an outsider—now more than ever. If there is no truce reached between the Sussexes and the royals, he could decide to break away and not look back."
In Oct. 2020, royal biographer Robert Lacey told Best Life that even if William and Harry attend the unveiling together, that may not tell the full story. "They will certainly stand side-by-side on that occasion, but who can tell how deep their reconciliation will be," he said.
Of course, this was before the Winfrey interview and all that's come after it. While William has joined forces with Charles to fortify and protect the Royal Family in the aftermath of the tell-all, Harry has found himself adrift from some of his closest family members, who are angry over his perceived betrayal.
"It will all depend on what happens between then and now," an insider told Best Life. "If anything happens on either side to make tempers flare, it's entirely possible Harry won't be at the unveiling."
Diane Clehane is a New York-based journalist and author of Imagining Diana and Diana: The Secrets of Her Style.