A new statue of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother was unveiled yesterday in London.

The Queen Mother was the Queen during World War II (before, of course, she became the Queen Mother) and was married to King George VI, or Bertie as she called him.

George VI and Queen Elizabeth famously decided to stay in Britain during the Blitz when they could have been taken to safety abroad, probably to Canada.

She often made visits to parts of London that were targeted by the German Luftwaffe, in particular the East End, near London's docks, and walked amongst the rubble.

When Buckingham Palace itself took several hits during the height of the bombing, Elizabeth was able to say, "I'm glad we've been bombed. It makes me feel I can look the East End in the face."

The statue is flanked by two 11-foot long friezes by artist Paul Day.

The first shows a wartime scene with the king and queen visiting bombed-out Londoners, with the second showing elements of her life as queen mother such as meeting veterans, at the races and with her corgi dogs.

Her husband King George VI died in 1952, and their daughter, Princess Elizabeth became Queen.

Yesterday, the Queen Mother's statue was unveiled next that of her husband's, which has been there since 1955. Both statues show the former monarchs wearing the robes of the Order of the Garter.

The Queen Mother, who was India's last Empress, died in March 2002 aged almost 102.

ROBERT HARDMAN: There was never any doubt where the Queen Mother's memorial would go

By Robert Hardman
25th February 2009
Daily Mail

The Queen Mother's new memorial lies close to that of her beloved "Bertie"

She had always kept a tender eye on this space, ever since they erected the statue of her beloved husband Bertie here in 1955. So, there was never any doubt where the nation would place its memorial to the Queen Mother.

And yesterday, nearly seven years after the death of her adored mother, the Queen led a bumper gathering of the Royal Family - as well as various Scottish cousins, the Government and several busloads of devoted old retainers - in unveiling a permanent tribute to Britain's Last Empress in the heart of London.

With a single tug of a gold cord, the blue satin covers fell away to reveal the Queen's late mother standing just in front, and just below, the existing statue of her husband, George VI.

Both bronze figures are 9ft 6in tall, both subjects are portrayed at a similar age (the King was sculpted to show him in his early 50s, so his Queen appears in her late 40s) and both wear the robes of the Order of the Garter.

Despite the drizzle, this was a distinctly upbeat gathering, with the Band of the Irish Guards pumping out royal favourites and the Queen looking anything but funereal.

She had chosen a woolen caramel-coloured ensemble which provided an excellent backdrop to her dazzling shell-shaped diamond brooch - the same one which the Queen Mother wore at her 100th birthday parade in 2000.

Gordon Brown arrived ahead of the main party with his wife, Sarah. It was Mr Brown - as Chancellor of the Exchequer - who secured the 2million funding for this project, through the Royal Mint's sale of a 5 coin marking the Queen's 80th birthday.

But there was little talk of finance yesterday. In fact, Mr Brown seemed to be relishing this distraction from the economy.

As he greeted the Prince of Wales and his sons, the Prime Minister was suddenly bent double in very un-Brown-like guffaws following a matey exchange with Prince Harry.

Prince Charles spoke of his 'beloved' grandmother at the ceremony

The guests included many members of the Queen Mother's former household, including her former private secretary, Sir Alastair Aird, and doting housekeepers like Sandra Chappell and Beverley Jones.

There were representatives of her Army regiments. When she died in 2002, there had been 32 of these. Mergers meant that there were just 17 on parade yesterday.

The formalities were conducted by the Rt Rev Richard Chartres, the Bishop of London, who recalled the late Queen Mother's 'zest for life and her generous sympathies', before quoting from one of her favourite poems: 'I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: "Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown. . ."'

This was the line which George VI used in his first Christmas broadcast of World War II. It was included in the order of service for the Queen Mother's funeral and is inscribed on the gates of the Windsor tomb.

No one was more devoted to the late Queen Mother than her eldest grandson. Prince Charles chaired the committee which chose the design and took a keen interest in the entire process.

He was the natural choice to articulate the thoughts of all present. 'At long last, my grandparents are reunited in this joint symbol which reminds us of all they stood for,' he declared.

'All of us gathered here today will, I know, miss my darling grandmother's vitality; her unbounded courage and determination; her steadfast belief in the British people and, above all, her irresistible, irrepressible sense of mischievous humour.'

Unveiled: The Queen stands with family and well-wishers in front of the memorial

The guests then moved forwards for a close inspection. Beneath Philip Jackson's statue stand two beautifully detailed bronze reliefs by sculptor Paul Day.

The first shows Queen Elizabeth meeting the crowds amid the Blitz. The second 11ft plate shows her in later life as Queen Mother, meeting war veterans, going racing and sitting with her corgis.

King George VI and Queen Elizabeth visiting London bomb damage during the Blitz, after they refused to be sent abroad for safety

Mr Day, a former beneficiary of the Prince's Trust, said he had a free hand. 'I know the Royal Family were following it all quite closely,' he said, 'because when I met the Queen at the opening of St Pancras Station, she said: "How's Mummy's memorial coming along?"'

Yesterday, the verdict on 'Mummy's memorial' was unanimous approval. 'I love that expression on her face as she meets the veterans because I've seen that rapt attention so often,' said the Dowager Countess of Strathmore.

An elderly chap in an anorak, who would not divulge his name but was proud to have served the Queen Mother for 32 years, was equally enthusiastic: 'The hats, the corgis, the charm - it's a fantastic memorial.'

By last night, a cluster of floral tributes suggested that the public agreed. And George VI must be happy, too. After 54 years of standing there alone, he now has his Queen alongside him.

Last edited by Blackleaf; Feb 25th, 2009 at 12:00 PM..