The Duke of Cambridge and the Duke of Sussex, who have been at the centre of an ongoing rift, will be together for the unveiling of a statue in memory of their late mother in the Sunken Garden of Kensington Palace – one of Diana’s most treasured retreats – this afternoon on what would have been her 60th birthday. The siblings will temporarily make peace and take the first tentative steps towards a full reconciliation after not speaking at length since Prince Harry and Meghan gave their bombshell interview to Oprah Winfrey.
But they will attempt to build bridges when the stunning monument to Diana, Princess of Wales, is officially opened and they make separate emotional speeches.
And repairing their fractured relationship would be the greatest honour to her memory, according to royal biographer Robert Lacey.
He told Express.co.uk: “I think we can expect they will be the first to understand how some sort of reconciliation would be the finest tribute they could make to their mother.
“Now whether that can happen quickly is another question. I think it’s more likely to be the beginning of a slow reconciliation. But it’s hopeful.”
The brothers are set to meet informally after the ceremony to discuss their ongoing rift, which deepened after Harry’s tell-all interview and subsequent podcast accusations about suffocating life in The Firm and accusations of racism.
But their father Charles will be absent from both events, further increasing speculation he is still seething after his youngest son’s outbursts and attacks.
It is not known if they will be joined by Prince William’s wife the Duchess of Cambridge who has previously acted as peacemaker between the pair.
A royal source said last night: “Tensions are undoubtedly running high but this project is incredibly personal to both brothers and they both realise that it is important to put any differences aside for the ceremony at least. There is definitely a feeling that both camps are prepared to come together and put on a united front for such a special occasion.”
READ MORE: Kate Middleton’s non-attendance at Diana statue event ‘speaks volumes’
He said: “Meghan’s a successful actress and Harry does his work for charity but at the end of the day their appeal and hence their commercial appeal and commercial contracts they’ve got to live on does depend on maintaining some sort of link with the Royal Family.”
Mr Lacey added: “And then on the other side, as William looks into the future of his monarchy, he and the monarchy that he will take over and which is beginning to shape already, he doesn’t want to exclude the only mixed race members of the family from royal status or from being members of the family.
“Harry and Meghan are no longer working members of the family but that doesn’t stop them being blood members of the family.”
The royal biographer highlighted the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee next June as another “milestone” after the statue unveiling, saying the Queen will want the Duke and Duchess of Sussex on the balcony of Buckingham Palace alongside other members of the Royal Family.
Mr Lacey said: “I think there are grounds for hope and I think the unveiling of Diana’s statue will provide a first step.
“There are other milestones down the road. One objective we have to look at is next summer when we’ll be celebrating 70 years of the Queen’s monarchy.
“She will be the first person to want all her family on the balcony with her, that includes the Sussexes and their two children.”
Mr Lacey said that the pandemic has “made the separation worse”, adding: “So let’s hope the easing of Covid will create some sort of mending and healing.”
The unveiling was due to be larger with many of Diana’s friends invited but Covid restrictions meant it had to be scaled back.
Harry arrived in the UK last Friday after travelling from the US for only the second time since he and Meghan ended royal duties in March 2020.
The Duchess of Sussex has stayed in California with their newborn daughter Lilibet “Lili” Diana and two-year-old son Archie.
Harry has been quarantining at his and Meghan’s former Windsor home Frogmore Cottage.
He finished his five days of quarantine on Wednesday and was pictured heading out to a charity event at Kew Gardens last night.
The Princes were briefly reunited at the funeral of their grandfather Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, at Windsor Castle, on April 17.
Aside from that they have not been seen together since an uncomfortable encounter in March last year at a Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey.
The statue was commissioned by the brothers to celebrate the positive impact their mother had on hundreds of millions of people here in the UK and around the world.
Work on the garden started in 2019 and since five gardeners have spent 1,000 hours planting. It will be a lasting tribute to the woman affectionately known as the Queen of People’s hearts.
With more than 4,000 individual flowers, including 500 lavender plants, 200 roses, of five varieties including Ballerina and Blush Noisette, 300 tulips, 100 Forget-me-nots, 100 dahlias, and 50 sweet peas.
Ms Morrison 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 and statue of Diana will be free to view during Kensington Palace Gardens opening hours.
*Battle of Brothers: William, Harry and the Inside Story of a Family in Tumult by Robert Lacey is out now.