Courtesy Kensington Palace
It’s a project led by Prince William and Prince Harry that has been in the works for over four years, and now, on the eve of its official unveiling, the redesigned gardens for the new commemorative statue of Princess Diana have been revealed.
Famously known as the late princess’ favorite place on the grounds of Kensington Palace, the Sunken Garden has been transformed into a fitting tribute to Diana, complete with touching nods to her favorite flowers and colors.
Five gardeners spent over 1,000 hours transforming the space ahead of the July 1 statue unveiling. Resplendent with over 4,000 planted flowers, the Sunken Garden now features a more streamlined design and larger lawn space to create “a calmer and more reflecting setting for the statue,” Kensington Palace write in a statement shared with BAZAAR.com.
Graham Dillamore, deputy Head of Gardens and Estates at Historic Royal Palaces, led the project and says the refreshed Sunken Garden—which was originally created in 1908 at the request of King Edward VII—was designed to serve as the perfect backdrop for the statue which has been created by sculptor Ian Rank-Broadley.
“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,” Dillamore says in a statement. “Over three decades later, I’m honored 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 favorite 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.”
Visible in the deep flower beds and lush borders are an assortment of spring and summer flowers in a variety of pastel shades, including 100 of Diana’s favorite forget-me-nots, 200 rose bushes in five varieties, 300 tulips, 500 lavender plants, 100 dahlias, and 50 sweet peas.
Landscape architect Pip Morrison—known for his sensitive, thoughtful approach to design and expertise in the development of historic gardens—designed the space to bring a sense of calm. “This has been a very special project to work on, as the Sunken Garden was a favorite place of Diana, Princess of Wales,” he said. “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.”
July 1 will see brothers Prince William and Prince Harry come together for just the second time in over a year for a special unveiling of the statue that they both helped shape the design for. They will be joined by Diana’s sisters Lady Sarah McCorquodale and Lady Jane Fellowes, brother Earl Spencer, and members of the statue committee, including former Kensington Palace private secretary Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton and Julia Samual, one of Diana’s closest friends.
A source close to the project tells BAZAAR.com that every effort has been made to ensure that the focus of Thursday’s small event, which will take place in the Sunken Garden for 30 minutes before moving indoors—remains on Diana’s life and legacy. “This has been a long time in the making and everyone there will be celebrating an incredible life,” they say. “It will no doubt be an emotional moment but also a happy one. Unveiling a permanent tribute to Diana’s life is something both William and Harry have wanted to do for a long time.”
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