Statue of Margaret Thatcher (Palace of Westminster)
|Statue of Margaret Thatcher|
|Completion date||21 February 2007|
|Dimensions||223 cm (88 in)|
|Weight||451 kilograms (994 lb)|
The statue of Margaret Thatcher inside the Houses of Parliament, London, is a bronze sculpture of Margaret Thatcher, the first female Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. It was ordered in 2003 following a change in rules to allow the depiction of living Prime Ministers in Parliament under certain conditions. It was unveiled by the Speaker of the House of Commons, Michael Martin, on 21 February 2007.
The statue is 2.23 metres (7.3 ft) high, and made in bronze. The design of the statue is intended to show Margaret Thatcher during her final term as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, between 1987–1990. It stands directly opposite the statue of Sir Winston Churchill and the doors to the Commons Chamber. It shows her with her arm outstretched and posed as if addressing the House. It cost around £80,000, and weighs 451 kilograms (994 lb).
Historical rules prevented the erection of a statue in the Houses of Parliament of any living parliamentarian.
However, in 2002 these rules were changed to allow for a statue or bust to be displayed of a former Prime Minister once five years have passed after their death, or when three Parliaments have elapsed after their resignation from the post. The second criterion is on the proviso that at least twelve years have passed and that they are no longer a sitting MP. Following these rule changes, busts of former Prime Ministers Lord Callaghan and Sir Edward Heath were installed in the Members' Lobby in 2002. A statue of Margaret Thatcher was commissioned in 2003 from Anthony Dufort by the Advisory Committee on the Works of Art with the intention of installing it in the Members Lobby, adding to the numerous busts and three full size bronze statues.
The statue was unveiled on 21 February 2007 by the Speaker of the House of Commons, Rt Hon. Michael Martin MP. During a speech at the unveiling, Baroness Thatcher, nicknamed "The Iron Lady" during her tenure as Prime Minister, said, "I might have preferred iron, but bronze will do. It won't rust. And, this time I hope, the head will stay on." The beheading comment was in reference to a previous statue of Thatcher which was vandalised through decapitation whilst on loan to London's Guildhall Art Gallery.
After its erection, the statue was compared unfavourably with other statues due to its height as it is only around 2 feet (0.61 m) taller than Baroness Thatcher in real life. Comparisons were made with such statues as the statue of Winston Churchill outside the Houses of Parliament in Parliament Square which measures 3.66 metres (12.0 ft) high. The only statue suggested which was shorter than that of Margaret Thatcher in the Houses of Parliament, was that of Captain Cook near the Greenwich Observatory, which is only 1.98 metres (6.5 ft) high. Once installed, the statue of Thatcher left only three former Prime Ministers missing from being represented in the Members Lobby: Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, Bonar Law and Neville Chamberlain.
The statue's arrival was not welcomed by all MPs; the Labour MP Stephen Hepburn called for the removal of the statue only a week after it was installed. He gained the support of three other MPs, including Glenda Jackson.
In 2013, MPs were warned not to touch the statue's toes for good luck as it was damaging it.
- Mangan, Lucy (26 February 2007). "Why Margaret Thatcher's statue doesn't measure up". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 February 2012.
- "Unveiling of a Statue of Baroness Thatcher in Members Lobby, House of Commons". Parliament of the United Kingdom. 21 February 2007. Retrieved 17 February 2012.
- "The Iron Lady Commemorated in Bronze". NBC News. 21 February 2007. Retrieved 17 February 2012.
- ""Iron Lady" unveils her bronze statue". Reuters. 21 February 2007. Retrieved 17 February 2012.
- "Where should Margaret Thatcher's statue go?". BBC News. 4 February 2002. Retrieved 17 February 2012.
- "MP in Thatcher statue protest". Evening Chronicle. 28 February 2007. Retrieved 17 February 2012 – via The Free Library.
- "Do not touch Thatcher or Churchill statue feet, MPs told". BBC News. 2 August 2013. Retrieved 2 August 2013.
- Hay, Malcolm, ed. (21 February 2007). "Baroness Thatcher booklet" (PDF). Parliament of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 25 December 2014.