Britain: Ronald Reagan in bronze

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    Sculptor Chas Fagan.
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A local, slice-of-life story from a Monitor correspondent.

LONDON – Americans wandering around the center of this city often bump into some familiar faces in the form of US presidents – Lincoln and FDR are just two of a handful immortalized in statues. Now it’s the turn of a much more recent incumbent of the Oval Office, Ronald Reagan.

A 10-foot-high bronze figure of the 40th president, by the US sculptor Chas Fagan, is to be erected outside the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square, close to an existing one of Dwight Eisenhower.

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A change in Westminster Council’s policy of only allowing memorials to people who have passed away 10 or more years ago cleared the way for a planning application to get the green light after its submission by the Reagan Memorial Fund Trust, which includes figures associated with Britain’s Conservative Party.

The news hasn’t exactly gone down well with everyone – much of the British left were sternly opposed to Mr. Reagan’s foreign policies. But Andrew Roberts, a British academic described by some as President George W. Bush’s favorite historian, welcomed the planned statue, adding that Reagan “personified” the special relationship between Britain and the US when it was working at its best.

“His communication skills may not have been appreciated here quite as much as elsewhere. The reason we love him is because his policies led to a disillusionment of communism, and of course he was close to Margaret Thatcher, being ideologically at one with her,” says Mr. Roberts.

“Grosvenor Square is a good place for it also because it is a hallowed place for Americans, having been the location for Eisenhower’s headquarters during the Second World War.”

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