Prince Harry exits '20 minutes' after Diana statue unveiling

·Lifestyle & Entertainment Producer
·5-min read

Prince Harry, 36, didn't hang around for long after reuniting with his brother, Prince William to unveil a statue of their late mother, Princess Diana, outside Kensington Palace on Thursday.

The US-based duke — who flew in especially for the event to mark Diana's 60th birthday — reportedly arrived at the palace's Sunken Garden by chauffeur-driven car 30 minutes before the ceremony began.

Prince Harry and Prince William attend the unveiling of a statue of their mother, Princess Diana
Prince Harry reportedly didn't stay long after unveiling a statue of his late mother with his brother, Prince William. Photo: Getty Images

Brothers reunite

After making his way to the public garden, where the statue awaited under a green silk cloth, sources say Harry was greeted first by James Holt, a former Kensington Palace staffer who now heads up the Sussexes' Archewell Foundation.

Then, he was joined by his brother Will, 39, and the men appeared to put on a united front despite their royal 'rift' playing out over the past few years.

The duo hasn't been pictured together since their grandfather Prince Philip's funeral in April. The sad event brought them together for the first time since Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle, stepped back from the royal family and relocated to the US in early 2020.

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Watch: Prince William and Prince Harry unveil Princess Diana Statue at Kensington Palace

Prince Harry and Prince William pulling sheet off Princess Diana statue
They took on the moment of unveiling together. Getty Images

But the brothers weren't alone and instead had their long-time right-hand man, Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, by their side to diffuse any tension.

Lowther-Pinkerton, who was the chairman of the small statue committee, could be heard laughing with the pair, setting a relaxed tone for the event.

Rounding out the small, intimate ceremony were Princess Diana's siblings, Lady Sarah McCorquodale, Lady Jane Fellowes and Charles, the 9th Earl Spencer all of whom Harry and Will welcomed warmly.

Harry's quick exit

After some chit-chat, Harry and William each took a side of the green cover, and William said 'ready' before they pulled it down to reveal the statue amid applause.

Prince Harry was pictured grinning and looking relaxed, while Prince William spent more time inspecting the statue of his mother which was designed by artist Ian Rank-Broadley.

According to reports by the Daily Mail, after admiring the statue the group retired to the outside terrace of the Kensington Palace Pavilion for refreshments at around 2.45pm (local time).

But by 3.05pm, Prince Harry is said to have already made his excuses and left the party after just 20 minutes and 'one polite drink'.

Prince Harry and Prince William unveiling statue of Diana
The brothers unveiling the statue of their mother in the garden. Getty Images
The statue of Diana, Princess of Wales, by artist Ian Rank-Broadley, in the Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace,
The statue of Diana, Princess of Wales, by artist Ian Rank-Broadley, in the Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace, showing the three children around her. Photo: Getty Images

Fraught relationship

Prince Harry's relationship with William and his family has been fraught for months now, with the royal telling Oprah Winfrey in their now-famous interview back in March that he needed 'space' from his big brother.

"I love him to bits," Harry told Oprah.

"He's my brother, we've been through hell together. And we have a shared experience. But we, you know, we have different paths."

Both Harry and Meghan, 39, made a series of claims against the royal family including alleging a family member made racist remarks about the colour of their then-unborn son Archie's skin tone.

Meghan also countered widely reported claims that she made her sister-in-law Kate Middleton cry before her 2018 wedding to Harry, saying that it was the reverse that had happened.

When the prince rushed home to the UK from California when his grandfather died in April, many were hoping the family would reunite in grief however the relationship remains strained.

The Duke of Sussex with his aunt Lady Jane Fellowes and uncle Earl Spencer
The Duke of Sussex (centre) with his aunt Lady Jane Fellowes and uncle Earl Spencer. It's thought he has not seen them in more than a year. Photo: Getty Images

'Still extremely complicated'

Ahead of the statue unveiling, biographer Omid Scobie said the rift was not as bad as some reports suggested.

He told Good Morning America: "The relationship between Harry and William is still extremely complicated.

"From what I understand from sources it is just a case of distance. They're simply not talking at the moment and while there has been small communication leading up to this point through their relevant teams, this is really going to be the first time where they have a proper opportunity to chat to each other."

Rhiannon Mills, Sky's royal correspondent said the smaller ceremony was something the brothers wanted because of their frosty relationship.

She said: "They all know all eyes are going to be on them.

"Harry is very well-schooled when it comes to putting on appearances. Both brothers are wary of the press and will not want to stoke any stories about them falling out."

Prince William and Prince Harry unveiling Princess Diana statue
The princes looked delighted to be paying homage to their mother with the statue. Photo: Getty Images

After unveiling the statue of their mum, Harry and Wills released a rare joint statement that 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."

William and Harry commissioned the statue in 2017 and wanted it to "recognise her positive impact in the UK and around the world, and help future generations understand the significance of her place in history".

The statue will be a permanent part of the garden, which was one of Diana's favourite spots. She lived in Kensington Palace throughout her marriage to Charles and after their separation.

Additional reporting by Sarah Carty.

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