Death brings the living together, they say. We last saw William and Harry together at their grandfather’s funeral, and we will see them again next month at the unveiling of a memorial to their mother Diana, Princess of Wales.
The brothers collaborated on the commissioning of the statue with British sculptor Ian Rank-Broadley, whose portrait of the Queen appears on all British coins, in order to “enable all those who visit Kensington Palace to remember and celebrate her life and legacy.” It has been given prime real estate in the palace’s Sunken Garden, which Diana frequented during her stay.
That quote is from 2017, when the princes continued to issue joint statements. Nobody could have predicted how their relationship would deteriorate to the point where they are now separated by continents and barely speak to one another.
Prior to the unveiling, much will be made of the two men’s body language, Meghan’s inability to attend, and what all of this may or may not mean for the monarchy. However, these are two men who understand the media better than anyone else, having grown up in the shadows of the world’s most famous women.
Their predicament is deplorable. They place the blame for their mother’s death squarely on the shoulders of the media. They must, however, allow cameras into the area to capture the moment the statue is unveiled for the first time. This is because they acknowledge and even celebrate their mother’s legacy and public role. She was not merely a celebrity; for many years, she was a senior royal who used her celebrity to advance her philanthropic efforts, most notably her work raising awareness about AIDS and the scourge of disused landmines.
The princes stated in their 2017 joint statement that “it is clear that the significance of her work continues to be felt by many in the UK and throughout the world, even 20 years after her death.”
The brothers examine flowers, photographs, and other mementos left in tribute to Princess Diana near Kensington Palace’s Sunken Garden in London on August 30, 2017.
It has been nearly 24 years since Diana’s death, and while the brothers’ relationship has deteriorated, they remain united on one point: the critical nature of preserving her memory. That is the purpose of the July 1 unveiling. The princes will use their celebrity to draw attention to the event, before using their experience in front of the camera to keep the spotlight on Diana on her 60th birthday.
Since Diana’s death in 1997, several memorials have been built throughout London, including the White Garden at Kensington Palace and the adjacent Diana Memorial Playground, as well as the Diana Memorial Fountain in Hyde Park and the Diana Memorial Walk at St. James’s Palace.
Prior to Prince Philip’s funeral, much was written about the pair’s tension, which they alleviated by entering the church separately and exiting chatting. Nobody anticipated that, which meant they did not divert attention away from the event.
You cannot teach these brothers optics, and they will find a way to divert attention away from themselves and toward their mother during the unveiling. That is not to say there will be no tension between them; just don’t look for it.