Britain unveils memorial statue of Queen Mother

Tue Feb 24, 2009 12:17pm EST
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LONDON (Reuters Life!) - A national memorial in honor of Britain's late Queen Mother was unveiled near Buckingham Palace on Tuesday near a statue of her husband King George VI.

Her daughter, Queen Elizabeth II, performed the unveiling. Heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles and his sons Princes William and Harry were among senior members of the Royal Family who attended the ceremony on the Mall in London. Prime Minister Gordon Brown was also present.

"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 that allowed her incredibly to continue her official life until the age of nearly 102," said Prince Charles.

The bronze statue, created by sculptor Philip Jackson, shows the Queen Mother dressed in opulent velvet robes, signifying her place in the Order of the Garter, Britain's oldest and highest chivalric order.

The statues show the former king and his queen at the same age and are mounted on plinths simply inscribed with their names and the years they lived.

A special five pound coin produced by the Royal Mint to celebrate Queen Elizabeth's 80th birthday helped to fund the project.

The Queen Mother died in March 2002, aged 101. More than 200,000 people queued to pay their respects while her coffin lay in state in Westminster.

(Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Steve Addison and Paul Casciato)

<p>A memorial to Elizabeth, The Queen Mother stands on The Mall, in front of a statue of her husband King George VI, in London February 24, 2009. REUTERS/Toby Melville</p>