[fractured but whole]OPINION: Diana statue is fine but William and Harry together is her real legacy

Time:2021-08-15 22:59       Tag:

  As a new statue of Diana, Princess of Wales, is unveiled on what would have been her 60th birthday, let’s be honest. It wasn’t the artwork draped beneath a green covering for Thursday’s ceremony we were all desperate to see.

  Instead, all eyes were on the two princes, Harry and William, who had come together to remember their mother amid a highly public family feud.

  Would they smile and chat amiably, or would our armchair expertise in body language allow us to spot the signs of a relationship fractured beyond repair?

  Because we’re all experts in analysing this family’s dysfunctions now, aren’t we?


  William and Harry, with cousin Peter Philips between them, at their grandfather’s funeral.

  If sibling rivalry is fascinating to observe, it’s surely a hundred times more riveting when the siblings involved are princes.

  Who now live in different continents.

  With wives and families of their own.

  And with their every move dissected and discussed in the media.

  But let’s press pause for a moment here and rewind.

  The ceremony in the gardens of Kensington Palace was about paying tribute to a young woman who died a horrible death, leaving two boys motherless at the ages of 12 and 15.

  These two children, not surprisingly, formed a solid bond after their loss – it was them against the world, united in grief, staying strong together.

  Which has made the subsequent reported breakdown in their relationship all the more difficult for the watching world to take in.


  The younger princes all pals on a visit to a nature reserve in Botswana.

  Here’s a thing though. It’s natural, perfectly normal, for siblings to fall out.

  You can’t live with someone and not see their flaws and weaknesses.

  Think about the relationships you have with your own brothers and sisters and remember all the bickering, the disagreements and the arguments that have bound you together over the years.

  You fall out, you give each other the silent treatment for a while, and then just like that, you make up.

  Forget the royal backdrop and remember these are two young men trying to navigate their lives as best they can

  It would be weird if nameless strangers and online critics had a licence to discuss every minor detail of every trivial fight you had with your siblings.

  They don’t know you and what does it have to do with them anyway?

  Yet this is what happens with William and Harry. And it is weird that people who don’t know them feel the need to criticise and comment on their every move.

  Let’s just forget the whole royal family backdrop and instead remember that these are two young men trying to navigate their lives as best they can.


  The Prince of Wales, Prince William, Prince Harry, Earl Althorp and Duke of Edinburgh walk behind Diana, the Princess of Wales’ funeral cortege.

  They might be surrounded by unimaginable wealth and privilege but they also have to contend with the full glare of the world’s media – thousands of armchair experts and TV commentators who all believe they know enough about them to share their opinions onscreen and online.

  We get pages full of amateur psychology and analysis, speculating on their ‘toxic’ relationship, their continuing feuds, their rivalry, their jealousy, their choice of baby names…

  All of it written by people who have never met them and who know nothing about what is really going on behind the scenes.

  Maybe the princes have fallen out, maybe they are no longer as close as they once were, but be honest, isn’t that the case with any brother or sister relationship?

  As we move into adulthood, we form new bonds, create our own families, and gradually and subtly, drift further from our siblings.

  The relationship between Harry and William is nobody’s business but theirs.

  What gives any of us the right to speculate on what was or wasn’t said or done?

  And really, why does it matter?

  I’m no royalist but my sympathies lie squarely with the two young boys who were left without their beloved mother at a devastatingly young age.


  The princes on holiday with their mother in 1994.

  Deprived of that figure, they had to overcome that tragedy while being brought up by nannies and palace staff and they deserve any happiness they can find in their adult lives.

  They have both married women who seem to make them happy and they both now have children of their own to raise in as positive an environment as they can provide.

  Their mother’s life did not turn out to be the fairy tale we were all told she dreamed of, which makes it even more important that her sons get the happy ending they deserve.

  Let’s take a step back, stop speculating about two brothers who are no relation to us and give them peace to live their own lives.

  As they unveiled the statue on Thursday, they issued a short statement:

  ‘Every day, we wish she were still with us, and our hope is that this statue will be seen forever as a symbol of her life and her legacy.’

  Touching though it was to see the statue unveiled on Thursday, it was more so to see these two decent young men, incredibly both older now than their mother was when she died but both making their own way in the world and back together to do the right thing.

  Surely William and Harry are the only legacy Diana needed.


  Marie Penman.

  Marie Penman is a journalist and former lecturer in journalism at Fife College.