Art Movements – Return of the Prince
The statue that inspired us to think about sculptures that have changed location has itself now returned. Rob Smith takes another look.
After nearly a two year absence Prince Albert returns to Holborn Circus, in a slightly less central location than before. Poor Albert was blamed for causing road traffic accidents and conservators blamed motorists for not looking after him, so it has been decided to move London’s politest statue to a new location on a pedestrian island.
The statue was designed by Charles Bacon and originally unveiled in 1874, thirteen years after Prince Albert’s death. The statue was paid for by the Corporation of the City of London, so to say thanks Prince Albert raises his hat to the City! Prince Albert is depicted in military uniform. Around the base of the statue are commemorated the Great Exhibition of 1851 where Britannia is depicted distributing awards to all nations, as they look adoringly on. On the other side Prince Albert is shown laying the first stone at the Royal Exchange in 1842. There are also depictions of Peace and History. Innovation and free trade backed up by a monarchy with an historical pedigree and a strong military – the statue says a lot about how the City saw Britain. It’s nice, amidst all this that Prince Albert’s statue shows such a friendly and polite face!