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Historic moment first memorial statue to the late Queen is unveiled on what would have been her 98th birthday – featuring her beloved Corgis at her heels as real-life owners of the breed mass to pay their respects

Vaseline 3 months ago

The is the historic moment the first memorial statue to the late Queen is unveiled on what would have been her 98th birthday, featuring her beloved corgis at her heels.

The unveiling was done to the cheers of crowds – and the approving barks of nearly 50 corgis as a delegation of dogs from The Welsh Corgi League were in attendance.

The eye-catching seven-foot bronze statue went on display on what would have been the late Queen’s birthday with a group of corgis stealing the show.

The stunning statue depicts a youthful Queen Elizabeth – who stood at just 5ft 4in – in 7ft glory in flowing regal robes with three loyal corgi companions at her feet, and one can be seen peeking out from the creases.

It serves as a permanent reminder to her remarkable 70-year reign and her enduring affection for the Pembroke Welsh breed.

Sculptor Hywel Pratley believes the memorial will become a hit not only with royal fans but will attract social media users wanting a selfie beside the late HM and her trio of corgis.

Over her decades on the throne, the late Queen owned an estimated 30 corgis and dorgis (dachshund and corgi mixes) and perhaps became the most famous Pembroke Welsh Corgi owner in history.

The statue of the late Queen Elizabeth II is unveiled today in Oakham, Rutland, today

A confused-looking corgi looks at a statue of the breed at the feet of the late Queen

A confused-looking corgi looks at a statue of the breed at the feet of the late Queen

The eye-catching seven-foot bronze statue went on display on what would have been the late Queen's 98th birthday with a group of corgis stealing the show

The eye-catching seven-foot bronze statue went on display on what would have been the late Queen’s 98th birthday with a group of corgis stealing the show

The statue serves as a permanent reminder to her remarkable 70-year reign and her enduring affection for the Pembroke Welsh breed

The statue serves as a permanent reminder to her remarkable 70-year reign and her enduring affection for the Pembroke Welsh breed

The Welsh Corgi League were also in attendance today. Pictured is a corgi on the statue

The Welsh Corgi League were also in attendance today. Pictured is a corgi on the statue

Some of the corgis were dressed up for the occasion - with one wearing a bow tie

Some of the corgis were dressed up for the occasion – with one wearing a bow tie

Queen Elizabeth II pictured stroking Candy, her corgi dog, in January of 2022. The late Queen owned around thirty corgis, and the breed is often associated with the monarch

Queen Elizabeth II pictured stroking Candy, her corgi dog, in January of 2022. The late Queen owned around thirty corgis, and the breed is often associated with the monarch

King Charles and Queen Camilla looked cheery this morning as they headed to Sunday service

King Charles and Queen Camilla looked cheery this morning as they headed to Sunday service

It comes as King Charles marks the date by going to Crathie Kirk with Camilla.

The pair looked cheery this morning as they headed to Sunday service near Balmoral.

The permanent memorial was also hailed ‘absolutely amazing’ and ‘fantastic’ by spectators.

The new statue takes pride of place outside the library in the market town of Oakham in Rutland, Britain’s smallest county.

One resident, Hilda Townsend, said: ‘It is just wonderful. We are the tiniest county but the first to honour the late majesty in such a big way. It is a very fitting tribute.’

Her husband John added: ‘It is absolutely amazingly and, as Rutlanders, makes us extremely proud.’

Speaking before the unveiling in front of an excited 400-strong crowd and with a host of local dignitaries attending, he said: ‘The plinth is designed to be sat on and I can see the statue becoming popular with the Instagram generation, and why not?

‘It will make perfect backdrop for pictures and people will be able to reach up and pat a dog or if small enough even sit in it’s back!’

Proud Mr Pratley, 51, who is half Welsh and lives in Chelmsford, Essex, told how he chose the addition of the corgis for a ‘bit of fun’ and to ‘tap into the late Queen’s humanity and address her friendliness.’

Real-life corgis were in attendance for the unveiling. The dogs are seen posing by the statue

Real-life corgis were in attendance for the unveiling. The dogs are seen posing by the statue

The permanent memorial was also hailed 'absolutely amazing' and 'fantastic' by spectators

Queen Elizabeth II looking at two of her corgis on the grounds of Windsor Castle

The unveiling was done to the cheers of crowds - and the approving barks of nearly 50 corgis

The unveiling was done to the cheers of crowds – and the approving barks of nearly 50 corgis

The stunning statue depicts a youthful Queen Elizabeth - who stood at just 5ft 4in - in seven feet glory in flowing regal robes with three loyal corgi companions at her feet

The stunning statue depicts a youthful Queen Elizabeth – who stood at just 5ft 4in – in seven feet glory in flowing regal robes with three loyal corgi companions at her feet

He explained he made the statue larger than life – 1.4 times bigger – because a ‘life size Queen Elizabeth is too small. She deserves more.’

She is depicted in her ‘younger to middle age’ reign.

Mr Pratley said he was ‘thrilled’ by his ‘most prominent work’ and first statue to be commissioned in the country, adding: ‘It is a very big day for me and Oakham.

‘Onwards and upwards!’

The £125,000 statue was commissioned by Dr Sarah Furness, the Lord-Lieutenant of Rutland, following the Queen’s death in September 2022.

Addressing the crowds in the spring sunshine, she said: ‘We are witnessing a piece of history today with the first statue of Queen Elizabeth to be commissioned since her death and who gave us 70 years of exemplary service.

‘Rutland may be a small county but the response to this had been huge with contributions from local businesses and individuals of varying sizes.

As she spoke barks from 46 dogs from the Welsh Corgi League rang out loud and clear, and she said, smiling: ‘You can hear them!’

She added: ‘The statue is for everyone.’

Before the highly anticipated main statue was unmasked two young children, who had won a local schools’ art competition, had the privilege of each unveiling two of the three bronze corgis.

First up was 10-year-old Freddie Newsham, followed by Molly Banham, aged five, to a huge round of applause.

Before unmasking the statue of the late Queen, Dr Furness , said it was ‘very fitting that three women were involved in unveiling her statue’ and revealing it in ‘all its glory.’

She said: ‘It is a remarkable statue which Rutland will treasure into the future.’

She added that the ‘barking in the background is a lovely noise!’

Sculptor Hywel Pratley, who had worked closely with the Le Blanc factory in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, said that a ‘network of people across Britain and across the world had helped bring it to fruition.’

A child in attendance today is seen hugging one of the statue's corgis at the base

A child in attendance today is seen hugging one of the statue’s corgis at the base

Three loyal corgi companions are seen at her feet, one peeking out from the creases

Three loyal corgi companions are seen at her feet, one peeking out from the creases

He told spectators: ‘I am proud to play my very small part in helping to celebrate he’d reign,’ pointing to the statue and saying: ‘She belongs to all of you.’

Following the unveiling, a lone bagpiper played a lament to the late Queen and one verse of the National Anthem was played with crowds joining in.

Dozens of corgis – some wearing red, white and blue – then posed beside the new monument with their owners and officials before parading along the packed streets to Oakham Castle for a meet and greet session with the admiring public.

Youngsters Freddie and Molly, who had been thrust into the spotlight by unveiling two of the corgis, eagerly joined in a photo shoot.

The pair had won an art competition, which had ‘many entries and was of a high standard,’ the Lord-Lieutenant had stated.

The pair had won an art competition, which had ‘many entries and was of a high standard,’ the Lord-Lieutenant had stated.READ

Freddie, 10, a pupil at Oakham Church of England School, admitted: ‘I was nervous unveiling the corgi in front of everyone.’

He added: ‘I love drawing but was surprised to win the competition.’

His father Chris Newsham, who runs the local Wisteria Hotel with his wife Kristy Carey, said: It is a fantastic statue and it is great publicity for Oakham, and I am proud of my son for his role unveiling.’

Fellow winner little Molly Banham, five, a pupil at English Martyrs School said she ‘enjoyed’ the occasion.

The statue was commissioned by the Lord-Lieutenant of Rutland, Dr. Sarah Furness

The statue was commissioned by the Lord-Lieutenant of Rutland, Dr. Sarah Furness

Sculptor Hywel Pratley, (pictured) said that a 'network of people across Britain and across the world had helped bring it to fruition'

Sculptor Hywel Pratley, (pictured) said that a ‘network of people across Britain and across the world had helped bring it to fruition’

Sarah Ferguson today paid tribute to her 'dear friend' the late Queen on what would have been her birthday - but royal fans were quick to spot a blunder in her message

Sarah Ferguson today paid tribute to her ‘dear friend’ the late Queen on what would have been her birthday – but royal fans were quick to spot a blunder in her message

It comes after the duchess thanked a fan for their 'cherished' support in a heartwarming hand-written note following her cancer diagnosis

It comes after the duchess thanked a fan for their ‘cherished’ support in a heartwarming hand-written note following her cancer diagnosis 

Deputy Lieutenant of Rutland warmly praised the occasion, saying: ‘It is typical of Rutland. We are a very close knit community and everyone has expressed solidarity.

‘There has been an amazing response and turnout, the streets are packed.’

Among the Corgi owners was Katrina Emptage from Lincoln with her two-year-old pet Mable.

She said: ‘The statue is absolutely amazing and I’m delighted to be here to see it and be part of the corgi parade. It is very special.’

The corgis were invited in celebration of the late Queen’s life-long, deep affection for the breed after she fell in love with the dogs as a child.

She owned more than 30 over the years, many of which were direct descendants of the first, Susan, which was given to her as an 18th birthday present by her parents in 1944.

Sculptor Mr Pratley had begun preparing maquettes of a standing figure of the late Queen in January last year, before a miniature version was unveiled at Oakham Castle two months later.

Donations quickly flooded in, the vast majority from individuals, which organisers said demonstrated the strong community support for the project, and the required £125,000 was quickly raised.

During the consultation period Rutland County Council received 41 objections and 33 letters of support but planners said concerns about the statue’s size and location were not enough to turn the idea down.

Speaking of his inspiration, Mr Pratley said: ‘I very quickly thought that I would like to have a corgi nestling in her robes by her feet because what a great symbol it is, artistically, of her being mother of a nation. The dogs and us able to shelter under Her Majesty’.

Mounted on local Ancaster limestone, the bronze statue was cast at the Le Blanc foundry in Melton Mowbray and installed with the help of a local construction company, Smithers Purslow.

Sarah Ferguson today paid tribute to her ‘dear friend’ the late Queen on what would have been her birthday – but royal fans were quick to spot a blunder in her message.

The Duchess of York, who was married to Queen Elizabeth II’s son Prince Andrew between 1986 and 1996, was a good friend of the late monarch, who died in September 2022.

Fergie shared a smiling picture of the late Queen in an Instagram post, but fans were quick to point out a simple mistake that she made in her accompanying tribute.

The duchess, 64, wrote: ‘Today we are remembering Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on what would have been her 97th birthday.

‘Thank you for all that you have taught us, for being a steadfast leader and dear friend. You are sorely missed.’

Queen Elizabeth II was born on April 21 1926, which means today would have been her 98th birthday, rather than her 97th – as Fergie had written.