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
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.