Diana, Princess of Wales, would have turned 60 years old on Thursday. The British royal, whose tragic death in August 1997 was mourned by millions worldwide, was known for her progressive approach to her role and her humanitarian work.
On Thursday, a statue of Diana will be revealed at Kensington Palace to mark her birthday. The unveiling will be attended by Prince Harry and Prince William, marking the first time the brothers will appear together since the death of their grandfather, the Duke of Edinburgh, in April.
The man behind the much-awaited statue – which was commissioned by the princes in 2017 – is Ian Rank-Broadley.
Rank-Broadley is a figurative sculptor whose professional career spans 35 years. He studied at the Slade School of Fine Art in London from 1974 to 1976 and was awarded the Boise Scholarship to Italy in 1977.
Working out of his studio in Gloucestershire, he has created public commissions at the Armed Forces Memorial (AFM) and National Memorial Arboretum.
His large bronze sculpture The Stretcher Bearers at the AFM borrows from the classical Greek mythology of Patroclus, though translated to depict the grief and loss of modern warfare.
The work shows a dying Patroclus, once a wartime figure and friend to Achilles, being carried on a stretcher by his comrades.
Rank-Broadley is also the artist behind the effigy of Queen Elizabeth II, which has been used on the coinage of the UK and Commonwealth since 1998. He also created the Gold Sovereign, a bullion coin showing a bust of the British monarch.
“The making of images has been central to my life. From an early age a compulsion to render in three dimensions has been imperative. The art of creating an image, shaman-like, which would posses qualities that exist in real life translated into a permanent state, was of immense importance to me,” the artist writes on his website.
Throughout his career, Rank-Broadley has mostly created architectural and monumental pieces, some of political figures and religious figures. Working predominantly with bronze, he has also created granite and fibreglass pieces.
He is the recipient of numerous awards, including from Goldsmiths’ Craft and Design Council, which granted him prizes in 2000 and 2002, as well as the Marsh Award for Public Sculpture in 2008.
The unveiling ceremony of Rank-Broadley's Princess Diana statue will be attended by members of Diana’s close family, as well as the artist.
The statue will stand in Kensington Palace’s Sunken Garden, which has recently been redesigned. The BBC reported that more than 4,000 flowers have been planted for the project, which took 1,000 hours to complete.
Kensington Palace told the BBC the Sunken Garden had been “one of the princess's favourite locations” during her time there.
Located in London’s Hyde Park, the garden will be open to the public starting Friday.