Statue of Queen Elizabeth II Unveiled on Her 98th Birthday in Oakham, Rutland

On what would have been her 98th birthday, a memorial statue of the late Queen Elizabeth II was unveiled in Oakham, Rutland, amid cheers from crowds and approving barks from nearly 50 corgis. The seven-foot bronze statue, created by sculptor Hywel Pratley, is the first permanent memorial to the Queen since her death in September 2022.

The statue, which cost £125,000, was commissioned by Dr Sarah Furness, the Lord-Lieutenant of Rutland, and was largely funded by donations from the public, demonstrating strong community support for the project. It depicts a younger Queen Elizabeth in flowing robes, with three corgis at her feet, and is designed to be accessible to the public, with a plinth that can be sat on.

Statue Details and Community Support

The statue’s positioning near the junction of Catmos Street and Stamford Road was chosen to make it accessible to the public. 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.

According to sculptor Hywel Pratley, the memorial will become popular among social media users, who will want a selfie with the late Queen and her sculptured corgis. Speaking to a 400-strong crowd, 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 its back!”

Mr Pratley decided to include the corgis in his design for a little bit “of fun” as well as showing the “late Queen’s humanity and address her friendliness.” He begun preparing maquettes of a standing figure of the late Queen in January, before a smaller version was showcased at Oakham Castle two months later.

Unveiling Ceremony and Residents' Reactions

During the unveiling ceremony, hundreds of members of the public gathered to watch, with onlookers of all ages clapping and cheering as the statue was revealed. Prayers and speeches were read as part of the celebratory event.

Residents expressed their approval of the memorial, with Hilda Townsend stating, “It is just wonderful. We are the tiniest county but the first to honor the late majesty in such a big way. It is a very fitting tribute.” Her husband, John, added that the statue makes locals like him “extremely proud.”

Some travelled hours to see it. Among the spectators was Jodie Paterson, who had been looking forward to seeing Mr Pratley’s work. She said: “I watched him when he was doing his small scale models and I thought he’s going to make something quite wonderful – and it is. I miss [the Queen] and I wanted to come and see what the statue was like.”

Royal Attendance and Prince Harry's Revelation

While some had hoped that King Charles III would attend the unveiling, no confirmation was given by the palace of a royal attendance. The unveiling coincided with Prince Harry revealing the date he and Meghan left Frogmore Cottage as the day his US residency formally began, in what is seen as a move to make a ‘point’ to King Charles and his brother.

On a form filed to Companies House, the Duke of Sussex declared the US his new country of residence. He is understood to have backdated his new official status as a US resident to the same day he and Meghan were told to leave their UK home.

The High Sheriff of Rutland shared a photo of volunteers and judiciary at the unveiling on X, formerly known as Twitter. They wrote: “Honoured to attend the unveiling of new statue to the late Queen Elizabeth II today in #oakham #rutland Congratulations to @rutlandll & everyone involved in a successful project. Delighted @leicscadets Ellie was with me on our 1st official engagement together”

A Fitting Tribute to Queen Elizabeth II

The unveiling of the Queen Elizabeth II memorial statue in Oakham, Rutland, on her 98th birthday, marks a significant moment for the community and the nation as a whole. The statue, funded largely by public donations, serves as a fitting tribute to the late monarch and a source of pride for the residents of Rutland.

The ceremony, attended by hundreds of people, showcased the strong community support for the project and the enduring love and respect for Queen Elizabeth II. As the first permanent memorial since her passing, the statue in Oakham will serve as a lasting reminder of her legacy.

Dan Grant, 24, said: “Nothing really happens much in Rutland so it’s quite nice to have a big celebration. Everyone’s come out. I quite like the pomp and ceremony, and the bagpipes especially.” The statue, which the council said was largely funded by donations from businesses and members of the public, cost £125,000 and was commissioned by the Lord-Lieutenant of Rutland.