London (CNN) — Death brings the living together, they say. It was at their grandfather’s funeral that we last saw William and Harry together and it will be at the unveiling next month of a memorial to their mother — Diana, Princess of Wales — that we see them reunite once more.
The brothers co-commissioned the statue from British sculptor Ian Rank-Broadley — whose portrait of the Queen appears on all British coins — to “allow all those who visit Kensington Palace to remember and celebrate her life and legacy.” It’s been given prime position in the palace’s Sunken Garden, which Diana enjoyed when she lived there.
That quote was from 2017 — in the days when the princes were still issuing joint statements. Nobody could have predicted how their relationship would break down to the point where they now live on separate continents and are barely on speaking terms.
Ahead of the unveiling there will be much talk of the body language between the two, how Meghan couldn’t make it and what all of it may or may not mean for the monarchy. But these are two men who know the media better than anyone, having grown up in the shadows of the most famous women in the world.
Their position is unenviable. They blame the media for their mother’s death. Yet, they have to allow cameras in to capture the moment the statue is revealed for the first time. That’s because they also accept, and indeed celebrate, their mother’s legacy and public role. She wasn’t just a celebrity, she was for many years a senior royal who leveraged her profile for her philanthropic efforts, particularly for her work on raising awareness of AIDS and the scourge of disused landmines.
In that 2017 joint statement, the princes said, “it is clear the significance of her work is still felt by many in the UK and across the world, even 20 years after her death.”
It’s now almost 24 years since Diana died, and while the brothers’ relationship is not what it once was, they still agree on one thing: the importance of keeping her memory alive. That’s what the July 1 unveiling is about. The princes will use their profiles to bring attention to the event, before using their experience of being in front of the cameras to keep attention focused on Diana, on what would have been her 60th birthday.
Ahead of Prince Philip’s funeral, there was much written about the tension between the pair, and they managed to take the air out of that by entering the church separately and exiting it chatting. Nobody expected that, and it meant they didn’t draw focus away from the event.
There is nothing you can teach these brothers about optics, and they will find a way to keep the attention away from themselves at the unveiling and on their mother. That doesn’t mean there won’t be any tension between them, just don’t expect to see it.
With the UK playing host to the world, the Queen — joined by Prince Charles and wife Camilla as well as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge — made an appearance at a welcome reception on Friday night. Rolling out the royals in this way is a tactic many British prime ministers have used to curry favor with world leaders — and once again the charm offensive seemed to tick all the right boxes.
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Queen Elizabeth’s eldest grandson, Peter Phillips, and his wife, Autumn, have officially gone their separate ways after finalizing their divorce settlement this week.
“Mr Peter Phillips and Mrs Autumn Phillips are pleased to be able to report that the financial aspects of their divorce have been resolved through agreement, the terms of which have been approved and ordered by the High Court,” according to a statement provided to CNN by the former couple’s spokesman, Gerard Franklin.
“Whilst this is a sad day for Peter and Autumn, they continue to put the wellbeing and upbringing of their wonderful daughters Savannah and Isla first and foremost.”
Wondering why it matters that Elizabeth couldn’t make it? Well, in her role as head of nation, the Queen needs to be part of the rhythm of British life. Ascot is one of those usually immovable events where we expect to see her, as we do when she opens a new Parliament or at Christmas for her annual message. When she doesn’t appear as expected, it can feel unsettling.
In normal times, at 2 p.m. sharp on each day of the meet, the Queen undertakes the Royal Procession in a horse-drawn carriage to the racecourse’s Parade Ring. She would usually be accompanied by royal family members in the four-seat vehicle and it is a chance for racegoers to get a glimpse of the monarch.
The Queen’s racing manager, John Warren, confirmed the monarch’s absence, telling the BBC’s Today radio show: “Obviously the Queen would love to attend, as you know she’s fanatic about racing, watching racing and breeding horses, and has been going to Ascot all of her adult life.
“So, it’s a shame to miss an event. The plan at the moment is to see how it goes towards the latter part of the week and if the Queen’s able to come because she’s got runners, then, fingers crossed, it will happen.”
Warren said the monarch has a “deep fascination” with the breeding of horses and will be keeping across all the races by reading the Racing Post newspaper each morning. “It’s a deep fascination or a very broad escapism for all the other things that the Queen has to deal with in her life,” he explained.
While the Queen wasn’t in attendance on the first day this year, several other royals were able to enjoy the races, including Charles and Camilla, Prince Edward and Sophie, Countess of Wessex, Princess Anne and Zara and Mike Tindall.