Diana's favourite flowers adorn Kensington Palace garden ahead of statue unveiling

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·Royal Correspondent
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Watch: Prince William plans private family visit to Princess Diana statue before official unveiling

Diana's favourite flowers, forget-me-nots, have been incorporated into a new design for the Sunken Garden, where a statue of her will be permanently placed.

Prince William and Prince Harry will unveil the statue of their mother on Thursday, 1 July, which would have been her 60th birthday.

Ahead of the unveiling, the Kensington Palace spot, one of Diana's favourites, has been redesigned to provide a calming place for people who visit to remember the late princess.

The new design includes 100 forget-me-nots, more than 200 roses, 500 lavender plants, and 300 tulips.

Pip Morrison who designed the new layout of the garden 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."

The garden design retained the historic structures but simplified the layout, adding deeper flower borders and a bigger lawn. 

The Sunken Garden has been redesigned for the unveiling of the statue of Diana. (Kensington Palace)
The Sunken Garden has been redesigned for the unveiling of the statue of Diana. (Kensington Palace)
The garden has been designed to be calmer to allow reflection. (Kensington Palace)
The garden has been designed to be calmer to allow reflection. (Kensington Palace)

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Work began in 2019 and five gardeners have spent 1000 hours working on planting.

Graham Dillamore, deputy head of gardens and estates at Historic Royal Palaces, said: "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."

The Sunken Garden temporarily became the White Garden in 2017, also to honour Princess Diana. It was filled with white and soft, pastel-coloured flowers, which reflected the exhibition of her clothes on display at the palace at the time.

The team have planted hundreds of flowers, including many of the princess's favourite. (Kensington Palace)
The team have planted hundreds of flowers, including many of the princess's favourite. (Kensington Palace)
The garden will be the permanent home of the new Diana statue. (Kensington Palace)
The garden will be the permanent home of the new Diana statue. (Kensington Palace)

Read more: Princes William and Harry to unite to unveil statue of Diana

That year, the brothers marked 20 years since her death. William and Harry commissioned the statue of her in 2017, and it will finally be revealed on Thursday after a delay, in part because of COVID-19 restrictions.

The statue will live permanently in the Sunken Garden, which is also the spot where Harry and Meghan announced their engagement. 

Kate, William's wife, will not be attending the unveiling of the statue on Thursday, probably because Meghan has been unable to fly over from the US to join her husband. She gave birth to their second child, Lilibet, in June.

Instead the brothers will be joined by close family of Diana, most likely her brother and sister, as well as Morrison and the sculptor Ian Rank-Broadley. 

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