Sadiq Khan confirms he’s ‘ready to support’ new King in choice of location for Elizabeth statue

Sadiq Khan confirms he’s ‘ready to support’ new King in choice of location for Elizabeth statue

City Hall has today repeated that Sadiq Khan regards decisions about London locations for memorial statues of the late Elizabeth II are “for His Majesty the King and the Royal Family” to make and that he “stands ready to support the Royal Family in whatever their wishes are”, underlining that this includes “using the 4th plinth” in Trafalgar Square “if that is the Royal Family’s preference”.

The restatement of the Mayor’s stance follows false claims by some media organisations that Khan intends to stop a statue of the late Queen being put up in the square or wishes to prevent the 4th plinth, currently the platform for a series of contemporary art pieces, being used for that purpose.

Despite City Hall issuing a statement to the same effect yesterday, the right wing Talk TV channel claimed today on Twitter that “having a statue of the Queen on the fourth plinth of Trafalgar Square has been ruled out by Sadiq Khan” and its presenter Mike Graham said on air that Khan had said “she’s not worthy” of the setting. He added: “Don’t you dare tell us that you can’t have statue to the Queen in Trafalgar Square because the people of this country want it.”

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Graham provided no evidence of public preferences for where any statue of Elizabeth in the capital might be put, although one member of parliament, John Hayes, who represents the Lincolnshire seat of South Holland & The Deepings, suggested the Fourth Plinth in the House of Commons last week.

Yesterday, the hard right Daily Express falsely claimed that “a plan to commemorate the late Queen Elizabeth with a statue at Trafalgar Square” had been “snubbed” by Khan (headline below) and cited “calls” for a permanent one to go on the 4th plinth, but provided no information about any “plan” or “calls”. The same article quoted a spokesperson for the Mayor stating that “a statue of the Queen at a suitable location in London is a matter for the Royal Family to consider and, of course, the Greater London Authority stands ready to support them in their wishes.”

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The Fourth Plinth, which is in the north west corner of the square, stood empty for more than 150 years before becoming used for a rolling programme of contemporary works from 1999, initially commissioned by the Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce with the support of its then chair, Prue Leith, and from 2003 by the Mayor of London’s Fourth Plinth Commission.

Although the Fourth Plinth has become well known, knowledgeable commentators have pointed out that it is overshadowed by Nelson’s Column and would not provide the prominence appropriate for a popular monarch who served in her role for 70 years.

Nicholas Boys Smith, director of Create Streets, who advises the government about architectural matters, has written that the Fourth Plinth “does not seem to rise to the occasion. Her Majesty would be paired with William IV on the opposite plinth and behind two Victorian generals. All are towered over by Lord Nelson. Placing Her Majesty behind two imperial panjandrums and on a par with one of her less illustrious predecessors does not seem sufficient”.

Nick Bowes, director of think tank Centre for London and formerly the Mayor’s policy director, has argued that a “statue on a plinth in the corner of Traf Sq isn’t befitting” and that a memorial might be built halfway down the The Mall, which could be renamed after Elizabeth and be closed to motor vehicles.

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