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private ceremony Princes honour Diana’s ‘strength and character’ as they unveil statue

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Prince William and Prince Harry unveil a statue they commissioned of their mother, Princess Diana, in the Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace in London. Photo: PA

Prince William and Prince Harry unveil a statue they commissioned of their mother, Princess Diana, in the Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace in London. Photo: PA

Prince William and Prince Harry unveil a statue they commissioned of their mother, Princess Diana, in the Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace in London. Photo: PA

Princes William and Harry put aside their differences yesterday to unveil a statue of their mother, Princess Diana, on what would have been her 60th birthday.

Diana’s three siblings joined the brothers for the private ceremony in the Sunken Garden at London’s Kensington Palace. It was only the second time the brothers have appeared together in public since Harry stepped aside from royal duties last year.

The statue, which shows a larger-than-life Diana surrounded by three children, was commissioned by the brothers in 2017. The style of her dress is meant to evoke the final period of her life, when she gained confidence in her humanitarian work.

“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,” William and Harry said in a joint statement.

“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.”

The statue is “immensely significant” because it underscores the brothers’ effort to portray Diana as someone who connected with the people and modernised the monarchy, said Robert Lacey, a historian. Traditionalists had criticised her as having undermined centuries of tradition.

“Statues are not popular or fashionable or even politically correct things these days,” Mr Lacey said. “So the fact that Diana, once a rebel, the royal outcast, is being elevated with her own plinth and position… says a great deal about the way the British monarchy is moving on and will be moving on.”

Video released after the event showed the brothers entering the garden together before talking with family members and then pulling two ropes to remove the cover from the statue.

In their only other recent appearance together, the pair seemed to chat amiably after the funeral for their grandfather, Prince Philip. But later reports indicated there was little progress in easing the rift.

Links between the brothers have been painfully strained in recent months, with William defending the royal family from allegations of racism and insensitivity made by Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle.

Harry stepped back from royal duties last year and moved his family to the US. William has pressed on with royal life.

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