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Queen Victoria was born and raised at Kensington Palace, so when Prince Albert died of typhoid in 1861 she placed a memorial in the park. It stands on the south side of Kensington Gardens, opposite the Royal Albert Hall.
The Prince reportedly told his wife that he
didn’t want a statue – as, if (as is very likely) it became an artistic monstrosity like most of our monuments, it would upset my equanimity to be permanently ridiculed and laughed at in effigy. Well, he patently didn’t get his wish – as she built the most exuberant statue in the whole of London!
The Albert Memorial was designed by Sir Gilbert Scott in 1872 and measures 180-feet from tip to toe. The whole thing is gilded-gold and surrounded by 169 marble figures from history.
The Freize of Parnassus which runs around the base features famous poets, painters, sculptors, architects and composers. Above that are a group of virtues, angels and images representing the continents (Europe, America, Asia and Africa), and arts and industries (agriculture, commerce, engineering and manufacture).
The gold-leaf Prince was added three years after the unveiling. The original sculpture by Carlo Marochetti was turned down by Queen Victoria, and he was still working on the second when he died. The third was built by J H Foley, and completed by Thomas Brock in 1875.
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