First Queen Elizabeth memorial statue unveiled

The 51-year-old former teacher covered his studio in pictures of Elizabeth in her youth. Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP

The 51-year-old former teacher covered his studio in pictures of Elizabeth in her youth. Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP

Published Jul 30, 2023


Queen Elizabeth has been immortalised along with her beloved corgis in the first official memorial statue unveiled since her death.

The British monarch passed away in September last year aged 96, and British sculptor Hywel Brân Pratley has been working on a permanent tribute to the late queen, which will be erected outside the library in Oakham, Rutland.

Pratley told the Sunday Telegraph newspaper: “This as I understand it is the first commissioned as a memorial to the Queen. There were others which were being worked on before her death, some finished and completed, some finished and still not yet unveiled."

The statue was commissioned by Dr. Sarah Furness, Lord-Lieutenant of Rutland, after she was "inundated" with letters from residents in the country following the queen's death, with many saying it felt like they had experienced a "personal bereavement".

She said: “I wanted something that reflected Her Majesty as a Queen rather than as a person for posterity. But we wanted to do something that reflected her warmth and humanity too.”

The artist has used 800 kilos of clay for the 7ft tall tribute, which captures the queen in around the 1950s or 60s, wearing state robes and currently depicts one dog at her heels, but two other corgis will be added before it is finished.

Pratley said: “Dr Furness had a vision for a larger than life sized statue.

“My only criteria set by the statue committee were that they would like a young queen and they would like her to be dressed in state robes.”

He began preparing maquettes of a standing figure of the queen in January, and unveiled one in March, which helped secure the £125,000 public funding for the statue.

The 51-year-old former teacher covered his studio in pictures of Elizabeth in her youth.

He said: “I’ve got my inspiration wall and they’re all pictures of the beautiful young Queen Elizabeth. Selecting this view of a cheekbone and that view of an eyebrow has been great for me, I’ve enjoyed that very much...

“A very important phase in her life was when her children were young and she was such a powerful force in the Commonwealth; so vibrant and beautiful and going 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 be looking at as they gaze upon their statute.”

Furness wanted the statue to mark the monarch in "the prime of her life" in order to reflect "the fact that she’s got a long future, a long life”.

Pratley added: “She was so indomitable 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 include a raised stone bench for passersby to sit.

The artist said: “I very quickly thought that I would like to have a corgi nestling 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 able to shelter under Her Majesty.

“She’s always had corgis around, so I think to miss the opportunity to include them in the composition was a waste.”

The inscription on the statue’s pedestal will read: “Erected as a tribute to Her late Majesty through public subscription by people in Rutland for future generations”.

Buckingham Palace are aware of the tribute and the artist hopes King Charles will personally unveil it once it is completed.

Pratley said: “We haven’t heard the fateful word ‘no’ yet. It’s still very much hoped that he will.”