London now has a second statue of Mahatma Gandhi, this time in Parliament Square.
Erected to mark the 100th anniversary of Gandhi’s return to India after completing his legal training at the Inner Temple, the statue was unveiled at a big ceremony on Monday 16 March led by India’s Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and David Cameron, Britain’s PM.
Speaking at the ceremony, the Prime Minister said that the purpose of this new representation of Gandhi is to “celebrate the incredibly special friendship between the world’s oldest democracy and it’s largest, as well as the universal power of [his]message”.
The statue was created by Philip Jackson, who is probably better known for his many football-related sculptures, which include the 1966 World Cup piece across the street from West Ham’s football ground in East Ham, statues of Bobby Moore and Sir Alf Ramsay outside Wembley Stadium and several, including one of Sir Alex Ferguson, dotted around Manchester United’s Old Trafford ground.
Gandhi’s statue is much larger than lifesize, standing at 9 feet tall, although the pedestal that it sits on is lower than most of the others so you don’t have to look quite so far up his nose when you’re standing in front of it! In contrast, Winston Churchill, Lord Palmerston and the other British Prime Ministers literally tower over the tourists. If you’re looking for modesty on Parliament Square, it’s Nelson Mandela rather than Mahatma Gandhi who wins however – the statue of the South African leader on the corner of the square is just a foot or so off the ground…
For the curious, London’s other statue of Gandhi can be found in the middle of Tavistock Square over in Bloomsbury, sometimes known as the ‘peace park’. This one, depicting him in a contemplative, cross-legged pose was created by Fredda Brilliant and was unveiled by the dignitaries of the day – the Indian High Commissioner and British Prime Minister Harold Wilson – in 1967.