London unveils Reagan statue on July 4th

 

IMMORTALISED ON film, Ronald Reagan, former actor and US president, has been commemorated with a series of three-metre (10ft) statues erected in recent weeks in Krakow, Budapest and Prague. The latest statue was unveiled yesterday – the Fourth of July – in London.

Under Westminster rules, statues should not be erected in honour of the famous until a decade has passed since their death, but the city council made an exception for Reagan, who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease before he passed away in 2004.

“You may be sure that the people of London will take this statue to their hearts,” said foreign secretary William Hague. “Those who stop and look will be reminded of president Reagan’s extraordinary achievements, and all that he stood for.”

The statue, standing alongside those of Franklin D Roosevelt and Dwight D Eisenhower at Grosvenor Square near the US embassy, was unveiled by former US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and Mr Hague.

Reagan’s supporters had hoped up until recent weeks that his great ally, the former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, could have been present for the unveiling. Illness prevented her from attending.

Reading the speech she would have given, Mr Hague said: “Ronald Reagan was a great president and a great man – a true leader for our times. He held clear principles and acted upon them with purpose. Through his strength and his conviction, he brought millions of people to freedom as the Iron Curtain finally came down. It was a pleasure to be his colleague and his friend and I hope that this statue will be a reminder to future generations of the debt we owe him.”

The statues were commissioned by the Reagan Memorial Fund Trust, which this year is celebrating the centenary of his birth. Last night, Ms Rice, representing Reagan’s widow, Nancy, gave the keynote address at a dinner in the Guildhall.

Explaining Westminster City Council’s decision to allow the erection of the bronze statue, Steve Summers said: “Regardless of politics, nobody can dispute that President Reagan was a true ally of this country.”