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Wednesday, October 21, 1998 Published at 19:32 GMT 20:32 UK


Memorial to Queen's lost love comes clean

Revealed: A part of London's newly restored landmark

The Albert Memorial, one of the UK's most ambitious restoration projects, has been unveiled by the Queen in London's Kensington Gardens.

[ image: The memorial was under wraps for most of the 90s]
The memorial was under wraps for most of the 90s
Queen Victoria's monument to her husband has been under wraps for most of the last decade as craftsmen worked to restore it to its former gothic glory.

The Queen unveiled the revitalised monument to her great-great-grandfather, the Prince Consort, amid a blaze of fireworks, which culminated in a pyrotechnic display of the words 'Albert Saved'.

The BBC's Rosie Millard reports from the re-opening of the Albert Memorial
It is thought that the restoration, which cost more than £11m, was the most complex ever undertaken anywhere in the world.

[ image: Before ...]
Before ...
The English Heritage project came in one year ahead of schedule and nearly £3m under budget.

Resting under a scaffolding cover for eight years, the Albert Memorial was a sad shadow of its former self.

The centrepiece, a great gold leaf figure of Prince Albert, had been in a poor state since it was deliberately blackened during World War I to prevent it becoming a target for Zeppelin bombing raids or domestic anti-German sentiment.

In addition, the memorial's marble statues commemorating the achievements of Victorian era were heavily stained and broken.

[ image: ... and after]
... and after
Its exuberant façades in the Victorian Gothic style were cracked and much of its detailed mosaic work had fallen off.

But on Wednesday, after a vast restoration programme which was largely funded by the government, its splendour was again on show.

Commissioned by Queen Victoria after the death of Prince Albert from typhoid at the age of 42, the memorial represents the spirit of its age.

[ image: The restoration cost around £11m]
The restoration cost around £11m
Indeed, with its statues of great men and nations it was clearly meant to inspire.

The statue of Albert - designed by Sir Gilbert Scott - is said to be so life-like that Victoria used to order it to be covered by a black cloth whenever she drove past.

As a testament to a royal who died young and was much loved by his subjects, the newly-restored Albert Memorial might even inspire those who are still deliberating how to commemorate Princess Diana.

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