William and Harry ‘collaborated’ with sculptor by sharing memories of Diana

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The Duke of Cambridge and Duke of Sussex helped make the Diana, Princess of Wales statue as part of a “collaborative effort”, the sculptor has said.

Speaking after the unveiling, artist Ian Rank-Broadley told how William and Harry shared poignant private moments of fun and joy from their time with their late mother to convey her personality.

He said he hoped the statue might provide some “solace” for the two brothers.

“I think that their mother is there in a real physical sense, perhaps in the evening when the grounds are shut they could easily come here for a moment of quiet reflection and I hope that will give them some sort of comfort or solace,” he said

Mr Rank-Broadley added: “Uppermost in my mind was to do something for the princes, the princess was a very public figure and in many respects an icon but she was somebody’s mother. So I paid the greatest heed to both princes in what they had to say.

“And in many ways it was a collaborative effort, they made a huge contribution, in many ways I could say the sculpture belongs to them as well – they helped make it.”

Diana’s 60th birthday
Sculptor Ian Rank-Broadley, the Duke of Cambridge and the Duke of Sussex after the unveiling of the statue (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Asked what direct involvement William and Harry had in the process, he replied: “Unfortunately I never knew the princess, I never met her, so I was reliant on what friends and family would say.

“One gets a flavour, there might be anecdotes, reminiscences and particular views, so they contributed in that way.

“They described their mother and in many ways there were private moments that were related – one certainly got the feeling she was an enormous amount of fun and (loved) playing jokes.

“That helps you create a person, so when I’m on my own in the studio, and I’m just modelling the clay, I got a feeling I’m beginning to know somebody. And towards the end of the commission, I really felt as though I knew a Diana.”

Diana’s 60th birthday
William and Harry unveiling the statue (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The bronze statue depicts the princess surrounded by three children, which were included to stop her appearing isolated.

It is 1.25-times life size and was cast by Castle Fine Arts Foundry in the traditional “lost-wax” process, with a patina of a bluish green over black.

Her short cropped hair, style of dress and portrait are based on the final period of her life – following her split from the Prince of Wales.

Mr Rank-Broadley highlighted the hands-on approach of William and Harry: “They would send photographs on a regular basis at all the different stages, visits were made to my studio so they were well aware at how it was progressing.”

The artist stressed again the involvement of the royal brothers in the project: “It was our statue, the collaboration was very good indeed and so therefore it’s not just simply my piece of work.

Diana, Princess of Wales (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

“In many respects I was a hand and I had the professional experience to try and give them what they wanted.”

The three children featured in the sculpture are a diverse group with Diana’s image holding the hand of a girl, a boy standing behind the group, and the princess resting her other hand on the shoulder of a boy who appears to have short afro-style hair.

The sculptor explained the children were not based on living individuals, adding: “I think we felt if the princess stood on her own in solitary fashion she might appear isolated.

“And one of the things that came across in talking to her friends and family was she was such a friendly and gregarious person, and she had a particular warmth for children. And in many ways it alludes to her humanitarian work and shows she was a great comfort.”

The artist, who was joined by his wife Hazel Rank-Broadley, an unannounced guest, said: “In many ways bronze confers immortality, by its very nature it will last a thousand or two thousand years so the image has got to be right and has to be right in the family’s eyes.”

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