Fourth Plinth Is Reserved for the Queen

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The fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square is being kept free for a statue of the Queen riding a horse which will be commissioned after she dies, say senior officials.

The plan sheds new light on why the plinth has never had a full-time occupant and has been used recently to showcase the work of modern artists. It also explains why the Mayor of London, who has been informed of the plan, recently performed a mysterious U-turn on proposals for a permanent statue to be placed on the monument, blaming "complex planning issues".

Even the Fourth Plinth Commissioning Group, which oversees what goes on to the famous space in the central London square, is believed to have been kept in the dark over the decision.

Between 1841 and 1999 there was nothing on the fourth plinth, which was sometimes referred to as the "empty plinth", before a string of modern designs adorned the space.

"It's perfect," a source said of the rotation system. "The modern art world doesn't want a permanent statue up there, and nor does the establishment."

Although the Department for Culture would not comment last night, four well-placed sources confirmed the long-standing decision to The Independent.

No single person took the decision, and those involved would not discuss it publicly, but in recent years the desire for a monument to the Queen has been the subject of discussion between No 10, the Palace and the local authorities.

One person from City Hall familiar with the discussions said the plan was for Her Majesty to be depicted riding. "The plinth is wide enough and perfectly shaped for Her Majesty on horseback," the source said.

The revelation explains why theformer mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, and his successor, Boris Johnson, would not commit to a permanent monument on the plinth in the north-west corner of Trafalgar Square by Nelson's Column...

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