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Why a U.K. Council Has Ordered the Removal of a Famous Prince Philip Statue

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Cambridge city council has ordered the removal of a controversial Prince Philip statue a decade after it was initially denied planning permission.

In 2014, Unex Group, a real estate and construction company, commissioned a piece of artwork—called The Don—that would ultimately inspire disdain for years to come. The $189,000 statue, a 13 ft. faceless depiction of the late Duke of Edinburgh, the husband of Queen Elizabeth II, in cascading gold and black academic robes, was erected outside a Cambridge office block to honor the Prince’s 35-year tenure as chancellor of Cambridge University.

The sculpture that was formerly outside Unex House has just moved up the road.  Hills Road, March 2023
Phil Masters

However, after it was erected, trouble ensued. The city council said they had turned down a planning proposal to place the statue there, and that those who erected it had defied their orders. Even the artist Unex Group once referred to as the creator of the statue, Uruguayan sculptor Pablo Atchugarry, denied any connection to the work. “I am not the author of this sculpture, and it is an abuse that they had used my name. I wish somebody would apologize to me for this misunderstanding,” said in 2014 per the Guardian.

Now, it seems the statue’s time has come to an end. Greater Cambridge issued an enforcement notice saying that the statue has caused “harmful material impact” to the appearance of the area and was erected without permission. On March 5, they notified residents that the statue would be taken down within four months of April 11, though appeals could be made if residents opposed its removal. 

TIME has reached out to Cambridge city council for comment.

“I will be glad to see it gone, but remain angry that developers could just dump it in place and then force the council to spend officers’ time and money getting them to take it away. We deserve better.” Katie Thornburrow, a Cambridge city counselor wrote on her website.

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