King Edward VII Statue

Queen Victoria Gardens Melbourne, King Edward VII Statue

Public Art : King Edward VII Statue

Sculptor : © Sir Edgar Bertram Mackennel

Date Unveiled : The King Edward VII statue was unveiled on the 21st of July, 1920.

Description : The bronze statue of Edward VII depicts the king in the full dress uniform of a British field marshal on his trusty stead. You may note the horse is exceptionally detailed. This is a result of the sculptor having organized the kings old horse to be brought to his studio so he could study it in detail.

Location : The King Edward VII statue can be found a healthy distance away from his mother's memorial  in Queen Victoria Park, Melbourne.

Funded : The original contract for the King Edward VII statue was to cost £1,867 but with all the delays the monument ended up costing close to £9,000. The bronze alone cost a staggering £5,000 plus then there was the pedestal which was an additional £2,000, oh and lets not forget £2,000 in freight and incidentals. The statue was cast in London and had to be shipped to Melbourne.

So Who Was King Edward VII? : King Edward VII was a popular British monarch and was often referred to as the "peacemaker". He was born on 9th November 1841. Being the first born of Queen Victoria he was destined to succeeded her when she died. She must have been a healthy monarch because Edward had to wait until he was almost 60 before he came to the throne (he still holds the record for being the longest heir apparent, but Charles is coming a close second!). Queen Victoria died in 1901, but due to sickness (appendicitis) and the ending of the Boar War it meant that the King's coronation was delayed until 1902.

Queen Victoria and Edward had a very much love/hate relationship thanks in part to his first sexual encounter which led to the death of her beloved husband, Albert. When 19 year old Edward (then Prince of Wales) spent 10 weeks at Curraugh Camp in Ireland it wasn't long before his fellow cadets realized he hadn't much experience with women. So the lads organized the actress, Nellie Clifton, to bed the future king. Well, all hell broke loose when word got back to his parents. Prince Albert was so furious he traveled to Cambridge to lecture his son about his irresponsibility, Prince Albert chose to have his father/son chat whilst taking a long walk in the rain. Albert died a few weeks later having contracted typhoid fever. The Queen would never forgive her son and wrote to her eldest daughter "I never can, or shall, look at him without a shudder."

During his reign King Edward was a popular soul, despite his indiscretions with numerous women. Unfortunately his reign was short lived, dying on May the 9th, 1910 surrounded by his family and the Archbishop of Canterbury. His death was a result of a bad dose of Bronchitis and heart failure. King Edward VII left behind his wife Alexandra and six children. The Edwardian Period was named after him.

History of the King Edward VII Statue: Unfortunately the King Edward VII statue had a little hiccup during it's conception thanks in part to a little procrastination from the sculptor and the outbreak of World War I. Despite Mackennel being commissioned in 1911 to commence the statue he was a tad tardy and before he knew it war had broken out. During this period every piece of domestic and public iron was seized by the military for use in ammunition and war efforts making it impossible for Mackennel to proceed. Thanks to the threat of bombing by the enemies the sculptor was then forced to store the model away safely until the war was over. By that time the sculptor was living permanently in London and had the project completed there (adding to the cost).

Controversy Alert : When at last the statue was finally shipped to Melbourne from London in 1920, Bernard Hill (a major funding contributor) was furious that it was not going to be erected on the steps of the Treasury building. Hill decided to sue but eventually settled with having his donation reduced from £500 to £300.

Well I Never ! : One of the King Edward VII's  last mistress's was believed to have been socialite Alice Keppel, none other than Camilla Parker Bowles great grandmother (apples don't fall far...). Rumour has it Camilla's grandmother, Sonia Keppel, was the illegitimate daughter of Edward.

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