Prince Harry flies to UK without Meghan Markle for Princess Diana statue unveiling
Prince Harry flew to the UK ahead of the unveiling of a statue to commemorate the 60th birthday of his late mother, Diana, Princess of Wales.
- Prince Harry landed at Heathrow on Friday ahead of a statue of his late mother Diana unveiled next week
- The ‘small event’ will be the first time Prince Harry and Prince William meet since Prince Philip’s funeral
- The statue will be held in Kensington Palace Gardens in London
The Duke of Sussex arrived at London’s Heathrow Airport alone on Friday afternoon local time, leaving his wife Meghan at their California home with son Archie, two, and newborn daughter Lilibet.
He was taken under police escort to Frogmore Cottage, within the grounds of the Royal Estate of Windsor, where he will self-isolate for five days before taking a COVID-19 test.
Kensington Palace has confirmed that Harry, 36, will join his older brother Prince William in Palace Gardens next Thursday for a “small event” for the unveiling.
“Prince William and Prince Harry will attend a small event to mark the unveiling of a statue they commissioned from their mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, in Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace on Thursday July 1,” a statement from Kensington Palace said.
“In addition to the close family of Diana, Princess of Wales, members of the statue committee, sculptor Ian Rank-Broadley and garden designer Pip Morrison will also be in attendance.”
It will be the first time the brothers have seen each other since the funeral of their grandfather, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, in April.
The brothers commissioned the statue in 2017 – the 20th anniversary of Princess Diana’s death – by forming a committee and privately raising funds for it.
Diana, Charles’ first wife, the Prince of Wales, was killed alongside her boyfriend Dodi al-Fayed when the car they were driving in crashed in a Paris tunnel on August 31, 1997, as she was pursued by photographers.
The driver of the vehicle, Henri Paul, was also killed in the crash, while the couple’s bodyguard survived.
Prince William was 15 and Prince Harry was 12 at the time.
“It has been 20 years since our mother passed away and now is the time to recognize her positive impact in the UK and the world with a permanent statue,” Prince William said in a statement upon the announcement of the statue in 2017.
Strained royal relations
Some quarters of the British press had speculated on Prince Harry’s participation in the unveiling, given his strained relations with other royals following an explosive interview with Oprah Winfrey earlier this year.
During the interview, the Sussexes accused an anonymous family member of racism and said Meghan’s calls for help with her mental health had been rejected by palace officials.
The interview came months after Prince Harry and Meghan confirmed their departure as active members of the Royal Family, which included the Duke and Duchess stripped of their royal sponsorships.
More controversy was sparked earlier this month when the BBC reported that the Sussexes had not sought permission from Queen Elizabeth before choosing Lilibet’s name.
The nickname “Lilibet” was reported to the Queen as a child when she was unable to pronounce her own name correctly.
Lawyers for the Duke and Duchess said the BBC article was “false and defamatory”.