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Wednesday, 10 April, 2002, 12:11 GMT 13:11 UK
Call for Queen Mother statue
Rachel Whiteread's Monument being unveiled in June 2001
The plinth has hosted contemporary sculpture
A statue of the Queen Mother should be erected on the empty fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square, an MP has said.

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Simon Hughes said the square would be an ideal place for a memorial sculpture - and the Queen Mother in turn would be a suitable figure for the central London square.

The Queen Mother waving in 1995
The Queen Mother - held with great public affection
"It seems to me that the Queen Mother... fits many of the criteria people have argued for," Mr Hughes told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"They've said they didn't want another man.. they didn't want somebody in military uniform.

"They did want somebody who was popular and would bring public affection and public attraction to one of the most public places in the country."

"I can't think of anybody at the moment who would better fit that model than the Queen Mother," said Mr Hughes.

"There is bound to be a statue somewhere, so why not Trafalgar Square?"

Mr Hughes and Lib Dem London spokesman Edward Davey were tabling a motion in the House of Commons that the statue should be erected as "part of a fitting tribute to her memory".

East London alternative

A Greater London Authority commissioning group is currently considering what should be placed on the plinth, which has been largely empty since the square was first laid out in 1841.

London mayor Ken Livingstone said he "strongly agreed" there should be a lasting memorial to the Queen Mother in London, but questioned whether other venues could be more suitable.

Regardless of History by Bill Woodrow
Other recent statues include Regardless of History
"A number of proposals have been made, ranging from central London to the East End, where the Queen Mother is remembered fondly for her wartime efforts in helping Londoners survive the Blitz," he said.

"The most appropriate location should be decided once all the different ideas have been considered."

A spokeswoman for the authority said they had received many unsolicited letters from members of the public suggesting ideas for the plinth.

But she said as far as she knew no formal public consultation exercise was planned.

Others have questioned the suitability of the site for a memorial to the Queen Mother.

Some commentators say her image may not chime well with the other three statues, which are large-scale equestrian figures - two of 19th century generals and one of King George IV riding a horse.

Empty since 1841

The fourth plinth was left empty when King William IV died without leaving enough funds to have his own statue erected.

In 1995 the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) was given permission to fill it.

Ecce Homo
A life-size Christ has also been displayed
After a public poll suggested figures including Nelson Mandela, David Beckham, Winnie the Pooh and a stiletto shoe, it decided a rotation of contemporary works was the best solution.

The RSA later handed over the project to the Greater London Authority.

Statues have included a life-size Christ, called Ecce Homo, by Mark Wallinger, and Bill Woodrow's Regardless of History, a huge bronze tree resting on a head and a book.

The latest, shown until December 2001, was Rachel Whiteread's Monument - a water-clear resin cast of the inside of the granite plinth itself.

 VOTE RESULTS
Should a permanent memorial be erected?

Yes
 73.87% 

No
 26.13% 

2139 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion


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See also:

21 Jul 99 | UK
Christ comes to Trafalgar
29 Oct 99 | UK Politics
MP campaigns for war women's memorial
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