Plans for a statue of Margaret Thatcher near London’s Parliament square have been rejected after a string of objections by the government, Royal Parks, local residents and even the Iron Lady’s family.
The project worth £300,000 (US$ 387,000) was commissioned by the Public Memorials Appeal, a charity that pushes for monuments of historically important people, shortly after the first female British prime minister’s death in 2013.
However, the work was put on hold after Thatcher’s daughter, Carol, objected to the absence of her mother’s signature handbag in the original design.
The Royal Parks, which manages the land on which the monument would have been built, said that it had refused the proposal due to a lack of approval from the Thatcher family.
In a joint statement by the Royal Parks and the government, Estates Officer Matthew Oakley said:
“The applicant has failed to give the reassurances the Royal Parks has sought, and therefore the proposal has not yet been put to our board.
“The Royal Parks objects to the proposals contained in this planning application and offers no permissions for the installation of the statue.”
In addition to the lack of a handbag, Thatcher’s highly-controversial and divisive legacy led to complaints from local residents, who raised concerns that the memorial would attract vandals to the neighborhood.
Very pleased a statue of Margaret Thatcher will not be erected. Thatcher didn’t believe in society so why should society pay tribute to her.
— Jane Hersey (@HerseyJane) 7 July 2017
The objection by the Thorney Island Society, representing local residents, said that although the late baroness’s significance as the first female British PM should be recognized, the 10-year period between the death of a person and installation of the public statue must be enforced.
“We note that the statue of Nelson Mandela was erected only six years after his death, but that should not set a precedent, especially as Mandela was an entirely uncontroversial figure, respected throughout the world,” a spokesperson for the society said in a statement.
“While Lady Thatcher was also widely respected, it cannot be said that she was uncontroversial in this country. There is a strong case for the 10-year rule to be respected – there should be a decent interval before permanent statues are erected, especially when they are controversial enough to risk vandalism.
“We also feel that the quality of the sculpture does not do justice either to the subject or the site. The understated and reverential character of the statue is disappointing given that the Churchill statue is so much more interesting. We understand that Lady Thatcher’s daughter dislikes the statue.”
Current PM Theresa May, however, weighed in on the debate, contradicting the British government’s earlier position by stating that the danger of vandalism is not a good enough reason to reject the costly Thatcher monument.
“What I’m very clear about is there should be no suggestion that the threat of vandalism should stop a statue of Margaret Thatcher from being put up,” May said at the G20 press conference in Hamburg earlier on Friday.
Thatcher’s tenure as Prime Minister was characterized by both domestic controversy, such as the crackdown on trade unions, and international scandal, including the Falklands War and branding Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress “a typical terrorist organization.”