It was one of her favourite places to pause and enjoy nature, and a statue of Diana, Princess of Wales will stand surrounded by more than 4,000 of her favourite varieties of flowers when it is unveiled by her sons on Thursday.
Gardeners at Kensington Palace have spent almost two years redesigning the Sunken Garden to incorporate forget-me-nots, ballerina roses, dahlias and sweet peas to reflect the Princess’s tastes and personality.
The Dukes of Cambridge and Sussex will be briefly reunited this afternoon for the unveiling of the statue on what would have been their mother’s 60th birthday.
The brothers have been at odds since the Duke of Sussex made accusations about the Royal family in an interview with Oprah Winfrey earlier this year, but will put their differences aside for the brief ceremony.
On Wednesday, Prince Harry ended his period of self-isolation after flying in from his home in California and attended a charity awards ceremony in London.
Graham Dillamore, deputy head of gardens and estates at Historic Royal Palaces, worked in the garden while the Princess was alive and led the five-strong team that carried out the replanting.
Work under way to redesign the Sunken Garden
He said: “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.
“Over three decades later, I’m honoured 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 favourite 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.”
The gardeners have spent 1,000 hours working on the planting, which includes more than 200 roses, 500 lavender plants, 300 tulips, 100 dahlias and 100 forget-me-nots.
Altogether, 50 varieties have been planted, which also include wisteria, agapanthus, clematis, hydrangeas, hostas, violas and petunias.
The garden, which was created in 1908 by Edward VII, was previously planted with white flowers in 2017 to mark the 20th anniversary of the Princess’s death.
Landscape gardener Pip Morrison, who designed the planting scheme and simplified the layout of the garden to include a larger area of turf, said it was “a favourite place” for the Princess, and hoped it would provide a “calming place” for visitors to remember her.
Pastel shades feature prominently in the garden, with Blush Noisette roses and China Pink tulips among the varieties providing colour throughout the spring and summer. The garden and statue will be free to view during the Palace’s opening hours.
An artist's impression of the new-look Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace
On Wednesday Prince Harry attended an awards ceremony for the charity WellChild, of which he is patron.
Celebrities including musicians Ed Sheeran and Ronnie Wood, TV presenter Amanda Holden and dancer AJ Pritchard also attended the event at Kew Gardens in London, to which the media were not invited.
The Duke said he was “in awe” of children and families who “power through indescribable challenges” made worse by the pandemic. The charity supports children with life-limiting illnesses.
• The Queen is to meet Angela Merkel just days after England knocked Germany out of Euro 2020.
Her Majesty will host the German Chancellor at Windsor Castle on Friday as Mrs Merkel makes a farewell tour of friendly nations before standing down in the autumn at the end of a 16-year spell leading her country.
Mrs Merkel is also expected to meet Boris Johnson to discuss the international pandemic response and ongoing issues arising from Brexit.