|First Queen Elizabeth memorial statue unveiled|
A new official statue of Queen Elizabeth and her corgis has been revealed as the first memorial to the late royal, who died last September at 96.
British sculptor Hywel Brân Pratley created the statue, which will stand outside the library in Oakham, Rutland, to honour the queen’s legacy.
He told the Sunday Telegraph newspaper: “As far as I know, this is the first statue that was commissioned as a memorial to the Queen. There were other ones that were in progress before she passed away, some finished and some not, some unveiled and some not.”
The statue was requested by Dr. Sarah Furness, Lord-Lieutenant of Rutland, who received many letters from locals in the county after the queen’s death, expressing their grief and loss.
She said: “I wanted something that showed Her Majesty as a Queen rather than as a person for future generations. But we also wanted to show her warmth and humanity.”
The artist used 800 kilos of clay for the 7ft tall statue, which shows the queen in her state robes from around the 1950s or 60s, with one dog at her feet and two more to be added later.
He said: “Dr Furness had a vision for a statue that was bigger than life size.
“The only criteria that the statue committee gave me were that they wanted a young queen and they wanted her to wear state robes.”
He started making small models of a standing figure of the queen in January, and showed one in March, which helped secure the £125,000 public funding for the statue.
The 51-year-old former teacher filled his studio with photos of Elizabeth in her youth.
He said: “I’ve got my inspiration wall and they’re all pictures of the beautiful young Queen Elizabeth. Choosing this angle of a cheekbone and that angle of an eyebrow has been great for me, I’ve enjoyed that very much…
“She had a very important phase in her life when her children were young and she was such a powerful force in the Commonwealth; so vibrant and beautiful and travelling around the world.
“Her reign was a period of British history, during which she represented something so hopeful – and that’s what people would like to see as they look at their statue.”
Sarah wanted the statue to capture the monarch in “the prime of her life” to reflect “the fact that she had a long future, a long life”.
Hywel added: “She was so unstoppable right until the end. I hope what I’m achieving with the design is a sense of purpose and stability.”
The base of the plinth will also have a raised stone bench for people to sit on.
The artist said: “I quickly thought that I would like to have a corgi snuggling in her robes by her feet because what a great symbol it is, artistically, of her being mother of a nation… The dogs and us being able to shelter under Her Majesty.
“She always had corgis around, so I think it would be a waste to miss the opportunity to include them in the composition.”
The inscription on the statue’s pedestal will say: “Erected as a tribute to Her late Majesty through public subscription by people in Rutland for future generations”.
Buckingham Palace knows about the tribute and the artist hopes King Charles will personally unveil it when it is finished.
Hywel said: “We haven’t heard the dreaded word ‘no’ yet. It’s still very much hoped that he will.”