Page last updated at 12:38 GMT, Tuesday, 24 February 2009

A new view of the Queen Mother

Daniela Relph
BBC Royal Correspondent

Statue of the Queen Mother
The statue of the Queen Mother dressed in formal Garter robes
As a smiling youthful statue of the Queen Mother was unveiled by her daughter the Queen in central London it may not have been the image that most people expected.

Having been 101 when she died in 2002, memories of the Queen Mother tend to be of her in her latter years.

So what produced this young-looking model of her?

Sculptor Philip Jackson said his first consideration, in designing the statue was its position next to the existing sculpture of King George VI, the Queen Mother's husband.

The King died in 1952, at the relatively young age of 56.

Paying tribute

"Having a sculpture already there made it a lot more difficult. 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."

Then there was the question of what she would wear. And again, Mr Jackson said, it was a decision dictated by her husband's statue. Like him, she too would wear formal Garter robes.

She was full of fun, the life and soul of the party and that's what I wanted to get into the sculpture
Philip Jackson
Sculptor

The two statues stand on the Mall, near Buckingham Palace.

The successful bid for the memorial site was one that reflects the life of the Queen Mother - from her time as Queen, her wartime experience, her family life and her love of horseracing.

The centre of the memorial will be Mr Jackson's nine foot statue, which will be surrounded by bronze panels depicting scenes from her life, designed by fellow sculptor Paul Day.

These images will include one of her with families in the East End of London after the Blitz, another with her congratulating a winning jockey at a race meeting and another of her sitting with her beloved corgis at the Castle of Mey in Scotland.

Useful memories

Mr Jackson had met the Queen Mother just once, in 2001. Back then he didn't realise quite how useful the meeting would be and he drew on his memories of that encounter while working on this project.

"It's very difficult because everyone has an idea of what she looked like and in a way that's what you're trying to find.

"Having met her was very useful. She was full of fun, the life and soul of the party and that's what I wanted to get into the sculpture - that sense of fun, that sense of life in her."

As the man behind the Bobby Moore statue at the new Wembley stadium and Sir Matt Busby's outside Old Trafford, Philip Jackson is practised at sculpting public figures.

Working at his West Sussex studio, Mr Jackson said he was always mindful of ensuring that this was a statue the public would like.

The Queen Mother has a slight smile on her face in his sculpture. The robes she is wearing appear to have been caught by the wind, giving the statue a sense of movement and openness.

Today's unveiling ceremony was attended by all senior Royals, members of the Bowes-Lyon family - her relatives - and the prime minister. The statue was blessed by the Bishop of London.

None of them had had a sneak preview. So when the Queen unveiled the statue it was the first time she saw this national memorial to her mother - a reflection of the 101 years of the Queen Mother's life.



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