On Thursday 26 March 2015, Her Majesty The Queen, accompanied by His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, will visit Canterbury Cathedral to attend a service and unveil two statues on the West front of the Cathedral that have been commissioned by the Friends of Canterbury Cathedral to mark The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh will attend a private lunch before the service at the Cathedral. Following the Service, The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh will process to the Great West Door of the Cathedral, where Her Majesty will unveil the two statues. She will also be introduced to the sculptor Ms Nina Bilbey and some of the Cathedral’s stonemasons. Following the unveiling, the Royal Party will attend a brief reception for staff and supporters of the Cathedral before departing.
“ We are all both delighted and excited by the news of the visit by Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh” said the Dean of Canterbury, the Very Revd Dr Robert Willis. “This will be a great encouragement to the whole community. The new Royal Statues will be a splendid addition to the Cathedral and they will be a sign of the high respect and affection that everyone at Canterbury has for The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh”.
Caroline Plaisted, the Secretary of the Friends of Canterbury Cathedral, added: “The Friends of Canterbury Cathedral have contributed the equivalent of nearly £13 million to the Cathedral since we were founded by Dean George Bell in 1927. Her Majesty The Queen is the first Friend on our roll of members. It is therefore particularly appropriate for The Friends to have helped to fund the new Royal statues in recognition of the long and dedicated service that Her Majesty and The Duke of Edinburgh have given to our country and the Commonwealth”.
The new statues of The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh were commissioned by the Friends of Canterbury Cathedral to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of The Queen’s reign and will complement statues by the Cathedral’s West Door of Queen Victoria (the only other Monarch to celebrate a Diamond Jubilee) and Prince Albert. The Statues are the first royal statues to be installed on the Cathedral during the Queen’s reign, indeed the only other statues installed during this time have been the Welcoming Christ above the Christ Church Gate (sponsored by the Friends in 1990) and the Son of Man in the Precincts
The Royal statues have been carved by Nina Bilbey. Since 2000, Nina has specialised in stone carving and she is presently the Senior Carving Tutor at The City and Guilds Art School London. Other commissions include statues for Hampton Court Flower Show, as well as St. Pancras Station and Saint George’s Chapel, Windsor.