Back in 1841, the Fourth Plinth at Trafalgar Square was proposed as a spot for a statue of a Monarch – King William IV, to be precise. You may have noticed, however, that that space has always looked, well, pretty King-William-IV-less.
Your suspicions have proved to be correct this time, because the Fourth Plinth never did get that royal statue, and instead tends to to be used for a series of contemporary, but, alas, temporary art installations commissioned by the Royal Society of Arts and the Cass Sculpture Foundation in 1999.
After 151 years, the cogs of that idea could be springing back into action as a means to commemorate the late Queen Elizabeth II, who passed away on September 8. There’s been rumblings of this idea in the past, with former London Mayor Ken Livingstone speaking about a statue here to honour the Queen back in 2013, and now it seems to be very much back on after the outpouring of love for the Monarch over the past two weeks.
You may remember the very recent Heather Phillipson ice cream sculpture that resided at the Fourth Plinth until August, or the ship in a bottle model that used to stand there thanks to the craft of Yinka Shonibare. Should the Queen take up the position, it’s thought she would be presented on horseback.
Should this idea come to fruition, it may be a little wait before the statue actually appears (what’s a little while longer after 150 years, right?). Installations at the Fourth Plinth have already been agreed to take up residence well in advance, with a new anticolonial statue by Samson Kambalu set to be unveiled last week before being delayed in the leadup to the Queen’s funeral. Teresea Margolles, a Mexican artist, is due to take over the Fourth Plinth with a sculpture showing 850 plaster casts of the faces of trans people.
It is not yet known whether this idea will be approved, but it’s now in the hands of those in Parliament and Buckingham Palace to decide if a statue of the Queen can take up permanent residency at the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square.