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Why Prince Harry's 36th birthday is a poignant milestone

The Duke of Sussex is now living in the US

harry 36th birthday
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Prince Harry celebrated his 36th birthday in his new home in California on Tuesday. While 36 is not considered to be a major milestone, it's a poignant year for the Duke of Sussex, as he is now the same age his mother Princess Diana was when she passed away.

Diana was tragically killed in a car crash in Paris on 31 August 1997, just eight weeks after her 36th birthday on 1 July.

READ: Prince William and Kate Middleton celebrate Prince Harry's birthday apart - see photo

WATCH: Prince Harry celebrates 36th birthday in California

The Princess spent her last birthday celebrating the Tate Gallery's centenary in London, stepping out in a stunning black beaded dress by Jacques Azagury and emerald jewellery. Crowds of people had gathered outside the gallery to give Diana cards and flowers.

Diana would have celebrated her 59th birthday in July 2020 and Harry delivered a passionate speech at the virtual Diana Award ceremony on the day.

Speaking from his home in the US, the Duke congratulated the young recipients, adding: "I know that my mother has been an inspiration to many of you and I can assure you she would have been fighting your corner.

diana 36th birthday© Photo: Getty Images

Diana on her 36th birthday in 1997

"Like many of you, she never took the easy route, she never took the popular one, or the comfortable one. But she stood for something. And she stood up for people who needed it."

Harry also planted Diana's favourite flowers Forget-Me-Nots in honour of her memory on the 23rd anniversary of her death on 31 August, during a visit to a preschool in Los Angeles.

The touching gesture came as he and Meghan helped children to replant their learning garden at the Preschool Learning Center, a programme of the Assistance League of Los Angeles.

diana william harry© Photo: Getty Images

Diana with sons William and Harry in 1985

Both Harry and his older brother Prince William, 38, have openly spoken about the loss of their mother over the years.

Kensington Palace also announced last month that the statue that the royal brothers have commissioned to commemorate their mother Diana, will be installed on what would have been her 60th birthday.

In a statement, the palace said: "The statue was commissioned to mark the twentieth anniversary of her death and recognise her positive impact in the UK and around the world. 

MORE: The Queen and Prince Philip share touching birthday message for grandson Prince Harry

sunken garden© Photo: Getty Images

The statue will be installed in the Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace

"The statue will be installed in the Sunken Garden of Kensington Palace on 1 July 2021, marking the Princess's 60th birthday. The Princes hope that the statue will help all those who visit Kensington Palace to reflect on their mother’s life and her legacy".

On his 18th birthday in 2002, Harry vowed "to carry on the things that she didn't quite finish" in relation to Diana's charity work.

While the Sussexes stepped back from royal duties in March, Harry and Meghan are set to continue their humanitarian work with their forthcoming non-profit organisation Archewell. 

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