by Lucy Sullivan
On August 31st 1997, Diana, Princess of Wales, died in a car crash in Paris. At the time, the Duke of Cambridge was just fifteen and his brother Harry was just twelve.
The royal editor of the Sunday Express, Camilla Tominey commented that “they were too young when she died to have any role in the memorial.” I sympathise with their wish to make a contribution to maintain their mothers memory, Diana was the beloved patron of many charities; including the National Aids Trust and Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital. She was and remains globally famed for her humanitarian work during her lifetime.
The princes express that as “It has been 20 years since our mother’s death and the time is right to recognise her positive impact in the UK and around the world with a permanent statue.” They stated that their mother “touched so many lives” and that they hoped “the statue will help all those who visit Kensington Palace to reflect on her life and her legacy.”
Peter Hunt, royal correspondent asserted in a BBC article that “This national monument to the wife of one future king and the mother of another has been a long time coming”, a view shared by The Queen, who has expressed her “support” for the princes’ plans. Hunt points out that a statue of the Queen Mother was revealed relatively promptly, seven years after her death. Curiosity has been raised on this basis; with some believing that it reflects the establishment’s indifference to Diana.
Controversy surrounding the idea does not end there. Diana was renowned for her warmth and compassion. Some have raised concerns over a cold stone statue’s potential to polarise this image. Furthermore, Diana was considered a ‘free spirit.’ Yet, this final family memorial at Kensington potentially deems her passive. Arguably it juxtaposes her proactive personality. However, some suggest that it renders her memory immovable against the establishment.
In my opinion, the princes’ right to remember their mother must be considered a personal (and not only a public) matter. However, the private sector are concerned with the cost of such a monument, as it is unclear as yet to who will pay for the commission. This has been causing concern, particularly since the Queen Mother’s statue cost £5 million. Admittedly, I am sceptical about funding, I ponder where such investments might be better placed. However, £5 million is not enough to fund, for instance, another hospital wing.
That said, the Royal family generate close to £500 million every year for British tourism with Windsor Castle, The Tower of London, and Buckingham Palace. Perhaps then, depending on where the money gained from tourism is spent, it is publicly beneficial in the long-term. I do think that Diana’s memorial statue at Kensington will be socially advantageous, and I would hope the princes get the go ahead to erect the statue in memory of their mother.