Page last updated at 13:42 GMT, Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Rugby hero pilot statue unveiled

Princess Alexandra Obolensky stands at the foot of a statue of her uncle, former England rugby star Prince Alexander Obolensky
Princess Alexandra Obolensky unveiled the statue of her uncle

A statue remembering the England rugby legend and pilot Prince Alexander Obolensky, who died during World War II in Suffolk, has been unveiled.

The Russian became a hero in 1936 at the age of 19, scoring two tries on his international debut in England's first victory over New Zealand's All Blacks.

The 50,000 bronze memorial takes pride of place in Cromwell Square, Ipswich.

It has been paid for by several private backers including Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich.

The prince and his family had fled Russia at the time of the revolution in 1917 and settled in Muswell Hill, north London.

'Absolutely devastated'

In 1939, he joined the RAF but died a year later, aged 24, when his Hurricane fighter crash-landed at Martlesham Heath airfield near Ipswich. He is buried in the town.

The statue was unveiled by his niece, Princess Alexandra Obolensky, whose father Michael was the prince's younger brother.

She said: "It was almost too painful for my grandparents to discuss him when I was a child.

"My grandparents were absolutely devastated by his death and my father adored him.

"Who knows what he would have achieved but for the war?"

Prince Alexander Obolensky scored a famous try in England's first ever defeat of New Zealand in 1936

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