Page last updated at 13:58 GMT, Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Prince hails Queen Mother tribute


A closer look at the bronze statue of the Queen Mother

The Prince of Wales has paid tribute to his "darling grandmother" as a national monument to the late Queen Mother was unveiled by the Queen.

Three generations of the Royal family gathered for the ceremony, including Princes William and Harry.

Sculptor Philip Jackson created the monument to the Queen Mother, who died in 2002 aged 101.

Prince Charles said it was fitting that the bronze statue was by that of King George VI near Buckingham Palace.

'Irresistible and irrepressible'

"At long last my grandparents are reunited in this joint symbol, which in particular reminds us of all they stood for and meant to so many during the darkest days this country has ever faced," he said.

"Today we remember them both with joy mingled with sadness, but also intense gratitude for the role they performed with such consummate grace and inspiration."

Queen Mother and King George VI statues
The Queen Mother's statue stands near that of her husband King George VI

The Prince added: "All of us gathered here today will, I know, miss my darling grandmother's vitality, her interest in the lives of others, her unbounded courage and determination... her calm in the face of all adversity, her steadfast belief in the British people and, above all, her irresistible, irrepressible sense of mischievous humour."

The statue was funded by the sale of £5 coins to mark the Queen's 80th birthday.

It portrays the Queen Mother in her younger days wearing Order of the Garter robes.

Derided and praised

Mr Jackson said this choice was partly due to the existing statue of her husband nearby.

"Most people know the Queen Mother as an elderly woman and that would have made her look like King George's mother.

"So how does one overcome that problem? I decided to portray her at a similar age to the King."

Mr Jackson has said he wanted his tribute to capture her sense of fun.

The brief for the memorial said that designers should take into account the foreign secretary's residence and Carlton House Terrace, which overlook the site.

The last time the Queen opened a Royal memorial - the Diana Fountain - it was derided and praised in equal measure.

The £5.2m fountain opened in July 2004 but closed a month later after it flooded and three visitors slipped and hurt themselves paddling in the water.

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