The Duchess of Cambridge may not be alongside her husband Prince William on Thursday as he and his brother Harry unveil the statue of their late mother Diana, Kensington Palace revealed last night.
Invitations had already been drastically scaled back in recent days from the 100-plus guests originally planned, due to Covid rules.
And last night the palace said the princes will now be joined only by Diana’s close family, the statue committee, the sculptor Ian Rank-Broadley and garden designer Pip Morrison.
Kate’s expected absence will be a blow for those who had hoped she might act as a peacemaker between the estranged brothers.
The Duchess of Cambridge may not be alongside her husband Prince William on Thursday as he and his brother Harry unveil the statue of their late mother Diana, Kensington Palace revealed last night. Pictured: Kate, William, Harry and Meghan at the 2019 Commonwealth Day service
The ceremony in the Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace, on what would have been the Princess of Wales’s 60th birthday, will be an emotive occasion.
The princes will be together for the first time since their frosty reunion at the funeral of their grandfather Prince Philip in April, before which they had not seen each other for a year.
It had been hoped that the unveiling could be part of the process of healing the rift.
But behind-the-scenes ructions included a clash over media coverage of the event, which will attract global interest.
Plans by Kensington Palace to invite a wide representation of UK media were scuppered after Harry and his team ‘kicked off’, according to one source.
Insiders suggest the prince – who has long railed against the British Press – insisted he would take part only if there was one agency reporter, one photographer and one cameraman present. He also insisted on an ‘international’ cameraman.
Much to the surprise of some insiders, the palace capitulated.
The event could still be an opportunity for a rapprochement, but it may be that the sparse nature of the gathering will only ramp up the tensions, particularly in Kate’s absence.
Invitations had already been drastically scaled back in recent days from the 100-plus guests originally planned, due to Covid rules. And last night the palace said the princes will now be joined only by Diana’s close family, the statue committee, the sculptor Ian Rank-Broadley and garden designer Pip Morrison
Prince William and Prince Harry walk either side of Peter Phillips at Prince Philip’s funeral ceremony at Windsor on April 17
William has barely been on speaking terms with his younger brother since Harry moved to California with Meghan to start a new life.
Relations have worsened in recent months, particularly amid the fall-out in March from the Sussexes’ controversial interview with Oprah Winfrey, in which they accused an unnamed royal of racism.
Robert Lacey, author of Battle Of Brothers, reveals in the Daily Mail today that Harry and William had a furious row shortly after Prince Philip’s funeral.
There had been reports that Kate had acted as peacemaker, talking to Harry as they walked out of St George’s Chapel.
But within minutes, the princes were quarrelling again, Lacey says. He quotes a source saying: ‘There they were – at each other’s throats as fiercely as ever.
Royal protection officers in a Volkswagen Caravelle outside London Heathrow Airport waiting for Prince Harry to arrive on friday
‘The rage and anger between these two has grown so incredibly deep. Too many harsh and wounding things have been said.’ Lacey also reveals that William referred to Meghan as ‘that bloody woman’.
However, in private the brothers have told friends of their determination to ensure any perceived disagreements do not get in the way of the ceremony in honour of their mother.
Last night Harry was believed to have started five days of self-isolation at Frogmore Cottage, Windsor, having flown to Heathrow from Los Angeles on an American Airlines flight.
Arrivals from the US, an amber list country, must quarantine for ten days – five if they give negative results in paid-for Covid tests on the second and fifth days.
Meghan has remained at their £11million mansion in California with their son Archie, two, and daughter Lilibet Diana, born three weeks ago.
The long-planned statue to Diana has been beset by delays. Privately funded by donors including Sir Elton John and David Furnish, it was originally due to be unveiled in 2017.
It was not completed until 2018, with Harry and Meghan’s wedding and move to the US further delaying the unveiling.
A bigger ceremony, for all those on the original guest list, is planned for September.