New statues of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh will be put in niches of the Royal Albert Hall that have been empty for 150 years.
Sculptures of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert will also be put up in statue niches on the concert hall’s facade, which have not been occupied since it first opened in 1871.
The public sculpture is only the second to portray Prince Philip, and will commemorate him alongside his 19th-century predecessor as consort.
Ian McCulloch, president of the Royal Albert Hall, said: “The hall is in our temporary stewardship, and it’s our duty to ensure it is here to inspire generations to come.
“As well as launching artistic and engagement programmes as part of our 150th anniversary celebrations, we wanted to commemorate the milestone with something tangible, and these sculptures will finally complete the facade of our glorious Grade I-listed building.
“This anniversary gives us the opportunity to recognise the enduring support of our Royal patrons, and leave a legacy of public art of a high quality and craftsmanship.”
The Queen and Prince Philip will be depicted as they appeared in the mid-1960s, with Prince Philip wearing white tie attire and the Queen in a full-length gown with gloves. Both sport the sash of the Order of the Garter.
The only other prominent public statue honouring the Duke of Edinburgh is a sculpture installed alongside that of the Queen by the West Door of Canterbury Cathedral in 2015.
The planned sculpture at the Royal Albert Hall comes after public calls for the Duke to be suitably commemorated following his death in April at the age of 99. Thousands of people had signed a petition for a “prominent statue of the Duke in London”.
Mixed views on new statues
The designs of the sculptures, currently only seen in their model stage, have split opinion.
Hugo Vickers, a writer and Royal expert, said: “I think these are very fine indeed. They remind me of the little figures on the tomb of the Duke of Clarence in the Albert Memorial Chapel in Windsor Castle.”
But Alastair Sooke, the art critic, said: “Royal portraiture tends to fall into two camps – the routine and dull and the distorted and controversial. The maquettes for four new life-size sculptures to be unveiled at the Royal Albert Hall next summer appear to belong to the former.
“While it is unfair to judge artworks solely on photographs, and while it would be wrong to write off an as yet unrealised finished result on the basis only of maquettes, these models strike me as pretty pedestrian fare.”