Thursday, 1 July 2021

Harry & William Celebrate Their Mother's Qualities "That Made Her a Force for Good" at Statue Unveiling

Prince Harry joined Prince William at Kensington Palace this afternoon for the unveiling of a much anticipated statue of their late mother, Diana, on what would have been the Princess' 60th birthday. Harry returned to the UK last Friday and quarantined at Frogmore Cottage before attending the WellChild Awards yesterday.

In a joint statement, William and Harry said: "Today, on what would have been our Mother’s 60th birthday, we remember her love, strength and character – qualities that made her a force for good around the world, changing countless lives for the better. Every day, we wish she were still with us, and our hope is that this statue will be seen forever as a symbol of her life and her legacy. Thank you to Ian Rank-Broadley, Pip Morrison and their teams for their outstanding work, to the friends and donors who helped make this happen, and to all those around the world who keep our mother’s memory alive."

Embed from Getty Images

The statue was commissioned in 2017, coinciding with the 20th anniversary of Diana's death. At the time, the princes released a statement reading: "It has been 20 years since our mother's death and the time is right to recognise her positive impact in the UK 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." They added "the time was right" to recognise the positive impact their mother had made on so many people all over the world.

Embed from Getty Images

A six-strong committee, with members including Diana's sister Lady Sarah McCorquodale and the princes' mentor Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, chose sculptor Ian Rank-Broadley for the prestigious commission.

Embed from Getty Images

The renowned British sculptor has produced much-admired works, including designs of the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, and the Queen Mother for British coinage. In 2012, he was recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Vicenza Numismatica.

The small gathering saw committee members invited alongside Diana's siblings, Charles Spencer, Lady Jane Fellows and the aforementioned Sarah.

Embed from Getty Images

It has been described as "a very personal moment for the family".

Embed from Getty Images

Prince Harry greets Julia Samuel -- one of Diana's closest friends.

Embed from Getty Images

A video from the arrival.

The Palace said the design was chosen to "reflect the warmth, elegance and energy of Diana, Princess of Wales", adding, "The figure of Diana, Princess of Wales is surrounded by three children who represent the universality and generational impact of the Princess’ work. The portrait and style of dress was based on the final period of her life as she gained confidence in her role as an ambassador for humanitarian causes and aims to convey her character and compassion."

Embed from Getty Images

A plinth beneath the statue is engraved with Diana's name and today's date. In front, a paving stone is engraved with an extract from the poem 'The Measure of a Man', which featured in the programme for the 2007 memorial service for Diana:

“These are the units to measure the worth

Of this woman as a woman regardless of birth.

Not what was her station?

But had she a heart?

How did she play her God-given part?”

Ian Rank-Broadley revealed the bronze statue is "1.25x life size. It was cast by Castle Fine Arts Foundry in the traditional 'lost-wax' process with a patina of a bluish green over black. The cast is hollow and is supported by a stainless-steel armature." He spoke about the commission and how he hoped to capture the Princess. "Diana, Princess of Wales was an icon who touched the lives of people right around the world, so it has been a privilege to work alongside Prince William and Prince Harry on this statue which commemorates her life. We wanted to capture her warmth and humanity while showcasing the impact she had across generations. I hope that people will enjoy visiting the statue and the Sunken Garden, and taking a moment to remember The Princess."

Embed from Getty Images

To coincide with the unveiling of the statue, photos of the beautifully redesigned Sunken Garden were revealed.

The garden was one of Diana's favourite spots and palace gardeners fondly remember her frequent visits. Pip Morrison led the project working closely with the Historic Royal Palaces team led by Deputy Head of Gardens and Estates, Graham Dillamore.

In a statement, the Palace revealed, "The new design for the garden by Pip Morrison retains the historic structures within 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. The planting design features a number of the Princess’s favourite flowers, including forget-me-nots, as well as many other spring and summer blooms in a variety of pastel shades. Work on the garden began in October 2019, and since then five gardeners have spent a total of 1,000 hours working on planting."

Pip Morrison said, "This has been a very special project to work on, as the Sunken Garden was a favourite place of Diana, Princess of Wales. We have worked carefully to ensure that the new layout and planting scheme compliments the statue, providing a calming place for people who visit Kensington Palace to remember the Princess."

Graham Dillamore added, “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. Over three decades later, I’m honoured to have been part of the team preparing the garden for the installation of this statue. 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."

More than 4.000 individual flowers have been planted, including 500 lavender plants, 100 dahlias, 50 sweet peas, 200 roses of five varieties including Ballerina and Blush Noisette, 300 tulips and forget-me-nots.

Forget-me-nots are particularly synonymous with Diana. We've seen the flowers chosen to honour her time and time again by her sons and daughters-in-law. In 2006, Harry joined Prince Seesio of Lesotho in creating Sentebale, a charity dedicated to honouring their mothers' legacies in supporting those affected by HIV and AIDS. The name, of course, means 'Forget Me Not'. On the day before their wedding, Prince Harry handpicked forget-me-nots from Kensington Palace for Meghan's bridal bouquet in memory of his mother. Last September, Harry and Meghan marked Diana's anniversary by planting them at Assistance League Preschool Learning Centre.

To mark Meghan's first Mother's Day, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex shared a very sweet photo of the new mother with Archie in the gardens of Frogmore Cottage against the backdrop of forget-me-nots.


The Duchess of Cambridge chose the little blue flowers to feature as part of her 'Back to Nature' garden at RHS Chelsea. Below, Kate planting ahead of the unveiling of the garden. It was reported Kate wanted the garden to reflect "memories".


For the launch of the garden, attended by the Queen, Kate's Erdem 'Shebah' dress was adorned with forget-me-nots.


Below, William, Kate and Harry viewing the Sunken Garden in 2017, when it was transformed and temporarily renamed 'the White Garden' in memory of Diana.

Today's event follows a message Harry shared for Diana Award recipients just days ago. The Prince said, "Our mum believed that young people have the power to change the world. She believed in your strength because she saw it day in and day out and in the faces of young people exactly like you, she witnessed a boundless enthusiasm and passion. Meg and I fundamentally believe that our world is at the cusp of change, real change for the good of all."

Embed from Getty Images

As always, crowds gathered outside KP to mark Diana's birthday.

Floral tributes and portraits adorned the gates.

Embed from Getty Images

Another video from the memorable occasion.

"Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you." - Diana, Princess of Wales.

Embed from Getty Images

And on that fitting note, I'm reminded of another quote of Diana:

"Family is the most important thing in the world."

Today is about honouring Diana and what she meant to her sons and the family she never had the opportunity to meet: Kate, Meghan, George, Charlotte, Louis, Archie and Lilibet. I'm very much hoping for today we can keep the focus on Diana herself and the legacy of a woman who meant so much to so many.

Embed from Getty Images

The garden and statue will be enjoyed by many for generations to come.

Embed from Getty Images

28 comments:

  1. Shantel (@FashionandFaith)1 July 2021 at 17:38

    Great post, Charlotte!
    What a lovely statue. I didn’t expect to feel this way, but I keep tearing up when looking at it. The artist did an amazing job of capturing determination and fierceness in Diana’s gaze. The way she stands, her arms protectively around the two children the the front. It’s like she is supporting them, AND propelling them forward. There is so much to say—an absolutely beautiful, fitting tribute. I just love this!!
    Shantel

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I felt just the same. It’s a lovely remembrance of a special woman. I am sad none of her five grandchildren will ever know her. - Karen in Virginia

      Delete
    2. Lovely, Shantel. You've really nailed it.

      Delete
  2. Susan in Florida1 July 2021 at 17:51

    Charlotte , is the Sunken Garden open to the public ? it’s beautiful . Thank you for sharing it all of it, as well as this event. I can’t wait to see more photos in the future of this because sculpture changes with light and seasons. The poem made me tear up.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Susan,


      I understand it can be viewed from the Cradle Walk only. I don't believe visitors can actually walk around the Sunken Garden.

      Delete
    2. I just read that from 2 July the public can access the sunken garden to view the statue. The extract from the poem on the plaque is very apt.

      Delete
    3. @A Kiwi Fan, it would be interesting to know where you read it. There has been no official announcement for this. As far as I can tell, you cannot set foot into the Sunken Garden but view it from the Cradle Walk. Just as before. They also didn’t open it when they transformed it into the White Garden for Diana in 2017.
      C.

      Delete
    4. I typed a query on line asking how to see the Diana statue in the sunken garden at Kensington Palace and it came back that it was possible to access the sunken garden by walking through Kensington Palace gardens. In another online reference ( Sorry, I can't recall the details) it said members of the public would be admitted to see the statue from 2 July. If they are not letting the public into the area it seems rather rediculous to commemorate her this way.

      Delete
  3. Well, I love it! Diana has always looked different to me depending on her hairstyle, the lighting, her emotions -- it must have been hard to capture here. The height of the statue and placement really seem to pull together the whole beautiful garden. The addition of children, including a girl and a child of color, is lovely. I would like to see more angles. This is a job well done and secures Diana's memory. And I don't like Erdem usually, but Kate's dress has a beautiful pattern, and now I realize the significance.

    ReplyDelete
  4. The statue is so large that it feels like she is also reaching toward her children; I think H and W would like that.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I think the garden is absolutely beautiful and the statue was an inspired idea, but the statue itself seems very grey and lifeless. I think the sculptor should have taken one of the photos of Diana interacting with real life children and replicated it. That would have activated our memories of her and her loving compassion for those in need. One example that comes to mind is the young African girl who had had her leg blown off by a land mine and the way Diana cuddled her.( On the other hand maybe people would feel that was too political.) The Princes seem to have put aside their differences for what is essentially a Spenser family occasion so this is encouraging, but I am very intrigued by the formality of their greetings with their uncle and aunts and why they didn't all cluster around for the actual unveiling. Surely after embracing at the start there was no further risk from standing together to view the unveiled statue together?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is said that the sculptor took a photo indeed, the Christmas photo from 1993 (after the separation from Charles) with William and Harry. At least her clothing has been inspired from this picture.

      Delete
  6. I like the whole concept behind the figures of the statue. The joint statement, tribute and dedication was beautiful and I think really did Diana proud. The garden seems like a tranquil and peaceful place. I wasn't immediately taken by the statue when I first saw the pictures, but as more pictures appear, I think it will grow on me. I also noticed that pretty well everyone involved seemed to be male, and I was rather thinking that some female input might have been nice, but of course we have no idea what happened behind the scenes. It was just a thought that crossed my mind when I watched the video. Lovely to see Diana's sisters there and one of Diana's friends, Julia Samuel. A very touching event to mark Diana's birthday and legacy.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Is it expectation? My first impression was the statue does not look like her face. To be fair to the man who molded the image, I googled famous names statues. Many statues don't look like the person's face. Her face also looks somber. That seems to be the case for other statues too. It makes me realize the super almighty genius of God. She lived in many living images while alive, however short her life was. In a way that is what matters. Live and celebrate life. Overall, the whole presence of Diana’s image with the children gives the statue more life and companionship.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I am so happy that Diana is now memorialized in this special way. The fact the Harry and William were intimately involved in the design of the statue and the design of the sunken garden must make them feel great satisfaction to finally honor their mother in this permanent way. The garden is exquisitely peaceful and beautiful, and the perfect place for Diana's presence.

    Being something of an amateur portrait sculptor, I, too, was disappointed in the rendering of Diana's face, which doesn't seem to capture the magic of her feminine beauty. But I think the design of the statue represents her devotion to people, and especially to children, very well.

    I feel some closure was achieved through this event, for me, and perhaps for others as well.

    R

    ReplyDelete
  9. Excellent post, wonderful event - thank you Charlotte! -op

    ReplyDelete
  10. It’s a very lovely statue but it doesn’t look like Diana.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Beautifully covered. The two chaps are so natural together, both in their stride, the one a future king, the other confident, independent. I’m proud for them, as a mum would be. The statue is excellent as a likeness, and as a symbol. I think there is a third child in behind? It occurs to me the photos are clear and uncluttered, due to less people in them than one would expect (pre-COVID). A bonus of sorts. Beth.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I think closure is definitely a goal. The statue is there -- no one can take that away. It may be a relief that H & W do not have to keep invoking their mother's name now -- she is sealed in history. I would find it very comforting. I hope they do, too.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I forgot to thank you, Charlotte, for your very beautiful coverage of this event. Thank you.

    R

    ReplyDelete
  14. I love the garden but have mixed feeling about the statue. I think as far as structural tributes go, the Fountain in Hyde Park is my favorite Diana tribute. When I visited Hyde park years ago, the Fountain was filled with children walking and climbing all over the structure. It was such a joyful sight. Families spread out on blankets and the lawn relaxing together. The water feature and the semi-circular pathway invited you to follow it around. There’s an informal, welcoming spontaneity that reminds me of Diana at her best with people. I think it’s that quality that made her the “people’s Princess”. Diana was the one who took that big, defiant risk that paved the way for other royals since to try to emulate that “commoner” touch with the public.

    Forget-me-nots self sow wildly in my garden every spring emerging among the bluebells and native bleeding hearts. Seeing them makes my heat sings:) —Maddie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Maddie for your impression - I see her more in the Hyde park monument as well. Bronze is a heavy material and the statue itself seems quite huge. I can understand her sons desire to give her the weight in history she deserves. And yet it does not really match with her airiness and warmth to be put in Bronze.
      The whole event seemed somewhat uneasy. Given the circumstances it is absolutely understandable. I hope for her 70th birthday the beautiful garden is still on display with now strong and overflowing plants. Children and Grandchildren- and at least some of them not in suit and tie, family and friends all cheerfully roaming the garden and sharing memories.

      Delete
    2. One thing has been bothering me -- the children's heads are so small compared to Diana. They look more like small adults rather than children. Allison in US

      Delete
  15. nice to see harry and wills together at this lovely event. so nice to see a statue for Diana. She will never be forgotten. I don't like the face of Diana in the sculpture but like the children around her and the feelings and sentiment depicted. wish Diana was alive still but this is a lovely tribute to the true Queen of all our hearts

    ReplyDelete
  16. I do have one more query. In the comments above it said that forget me nots are blue and they are shown that way in Catherine's dress . However Meghan's wedding bouquet has white flowers which we were told were the same variety of flower picked in Nottingham cottage gardens.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Forget me nots come in white, pink and various shades of blue. A friend of mine bought one that was purplish from a gardening shop :)

      Flowers are fun to play around with—with all the hybridization and new varieties you can breed for various desirable qualities:<)

      Delete

Welcome to Mad About Meghan! We do so look forward to reading your thoughts. Constructive, fair debate is always encouraged. Hateful, derogatory terms and insults are not welcome here. This space focuses on Harry and Meghan, not any other member of the Royal family. It's not the place to discuss politics either. Thank you for reading, we look forward to your comments :)