The statue of Sir Winston Churchill in Parliament Square may have to be taken down and moved to a museum, according to his own granddaughter. Emma Soames told the BBC Today programme that she had been left “shocked” by the sight of the statue of her grandfather boarded up. However, she went on to admit that if demonstrations around Churchill’s legacy continue, the statue may be safer in a museum.
Last weekend, protesters daubed “was a racist” on the statue of the wartime prime minister who fought against Nazi Germany.
The statue was boarded up on Thursday night ahead of a Black Lives Matter protest in Westminster on Friday evening.
Speaking to the BBC, Ms Soames said: “It was extraordinarily sad that my grandfather, who was such a unifying figure in this country, appears to have become a sort of icon through being controversial.”
“We’ve come to this place where history is viewed only entirely through the prism of the present.”
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Sir Winston’s granddaughter acknowledged that he was a “complex man” who held views which “now are regarded as unacceptable but weren’t necessarily then”.
However she insisted that he was rightly viewed as a national hero by millions of Britons.
She added “He was a powerful, complex man, with infinitely more good than bad in the ledger of his life.
“I think on the whole, people weren’t looking at the entire record of people when they put up statues for them, and even if they did we’d be living in a country of empty plinths I think”.
The former Tory MP added: “I find it extraordinary that millions and millions of people all over the world who look up to Britain will be astonished that a statue of Churchill and the Cenotaph, our national war memorial, could have been defaced in this disgusting way.”
On Friday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson branded the boarding up of the statue as “absurd and shameful”.
Mr Johnson said that Churchill had expressed opinions which were “unacceptable to us today” but remained a hero for saving the country from “fascist and racist tyranny”.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said other “key statues”, including one of Nelson Mandela in Parliament Square, would be boarded up as well, saying there was a risk statues could become a “flashpoint for violence”.