New ceremony for Queen’s equestrian statue

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The Queen Elizabeth II Equestrian Monument.
The Queen Elizabeth II Equestrian Monument.

The world’s first equestrian statue of Queen Elizabeth II, a Canadian work commemorating the 40th anniversary of her reign, is to be inaugurated at its new location this week.

Canada’s Governor-General Julie Payette, Governor General of Canada will inaugurate the Queen Elizabeth II Equestrian Monument in front of Rideau Hall’s main gate on Sussex Drive, on June 12. The statue, unveiled on Parliament Hill in 1992 by Queen Elizabeth II in honour of the 125th anniversary of Canada’s Confederation and the 40th anniversary of her reign, depicts the Queen astride her horse Centenial. The horse was a gift from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) to mark their 100th anniversary in 1977. The bronze statue is one and a half times larger than life, standing at 4 metres tall. The base is made of granite from the Laurentians and measures 3.7 metres tall, 4.3 metres long and 1.5 metres wide. In total, the monument weighs 1225kg.

Wednesday’s ceremony will also include the RCMP Musical Ride and music performed by the Band of the Ceremonial Guard and the Spitfire Brass Quintet of the Canadian Armed Forces.

British Columbia sculptor Jack Harman and his staff of ten worked for two years to create the monument.

Due to the major rehabilitation of the Centre Block on Parliament Hill over the next 10 years, the monument has been temporarily relocated in front of Rideau Hall’s main gate. It will be returned to Parliament Hill once the project has been completed. Rideau Hall is the official residence and workplace of the governor-general, The Queen’s representative in Canada, and where she stays when she is in Ottawa. It is not far from the RCMP stables, which are open to the public.

Centenial was a gift to the Queen in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the RCMP. On August 2, 1973, Her Majesty selected the horse — then known as Jerry — from a group of five geldings at the RCMP stables in Ottawa, Ontario. Jerry stayed with the RCMP for saddle horse and Musical Ride training as per the Queen’s request. Sergeant Fred Rasmussen had trained the first horse gifted previously by the RCMP to Her Majesty, Burmese, and subsequently was given the responsibility for Jerry’s training. The horse was presented to the Queen at Windsor Castle on May 15, 1977, and renamed Centenial.

Centenial was the second of eight horses that have been presented to the Queen by the RCMP to date.

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