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Romanian Royal Visit to Kent to Unveil Statue of Queen Marie

Media release

 17 December 2018

Romanian Royal Visit to Kent to Unveil Statue of Queen Marie

A bronze statue of Queen Marie of Romania was unveiled in the Kent market town of Ashford.

A granddaughter of Queen Victoria, Princess Marie was born and lived in Ashford before marrying into the Romanian royal family before the outbreak of the First World War.

The two metre tall bronze statue has taken pride of place in Elwick Place, a new town centre public plaza surrounded by a multi-million-pound cinema, hotel and leisure complex.

It was unveiled by Dr Liliana Turoiu, President of the Romanian Cultural Institute, and HRH Princess Helen of Romania, Queen Marie's great granddaughter.

"As one of the founders of modern Romania, Queen Marie is a heroine, an icon and her name and image are everywhere in Romania. And now she is here in Ashford - the first monument to her anywhere in the world outside her country. Ashford is now part Romanian!" Dr Turoiu told around 150 VIP guests.

Present were the Ambassador of Romania to the UK, representatives of the Romanian royal family and the Romanian state, as well as members of the Romanian community living in the UK. British guests included a Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Kent, the High Sheriff of Kent, the Mayor of Ashford, and local civic and business guests.  

Following the unveiling there was a reception in the new Ashford Picturehouse cinema, followed by a documentary film screening about Queen Marie and her life and work.

The statue has been donated to Ashford by the Romanian state on the occasion of its Centennial Celebrations (1918-2018).

Dr Liliana Turoiu said: "It is a great honour to be here to unveil the statue of Queen Marie, one of the symbols of our nation. We are celebrating 100 years of democratic, modern Romania with thousands of events that speak about our history. This is a unique project for the Institute and we are proud to have been able to leave an enduring legacy and promote the most important bridge between Romania and the UK."

Describing her great grandmother as one of the most important people in modern Romanian history and a "global star", HRH Princess Helen said: "We are immensely glad that a unique queen such as Marie is so beautifully recognised in her birthplace. She really was special, as throughout her life she feared neither bullets, nor diseases, nor wounds, nor poverty. She was known, and still is today, as the Queen Mother, the Mother of the Wounded, and the Soldier Queen."

Cllr Gerry Clarkson, Leader of Ashford Borough Council, said the installation of the statue of Queen Marie was a source of huge pride for the town.

"When we were approached by the Romanian Cultural Institute to discuss how best to commemorate the life and work of Queen Marie in the place of her birth in Ashford, we knew instinctively that we wanted to honour her memory in Elwick Place, which is destined to become part of the heartbeat of our town centre for generations to come. Fittingly her statue is located within sight of Victoria Park, the largest green space in the town and named after Marie's grandmother.

"I think it is fitting that someone who played such a key role in helping her new country to emerge stronger from the ashes of the First World War should be celebrated and honoured in the town where she was born and in a place where future generations can learn more about this remarkable woman," added Cllr Clarkson. 

The project was made possible through the joint effort of the Romanian Cultural Institute, with a grant by the Romanian government's Centenary Funding Scheme, and Ashford Borough Council.


Notes to Editors:
There is a selection of high res images available on request. 

Queen Marie of Romania

Queen Marie of Romania (1875-1938) was born and spent her childhood at the Eastwell Estate in Ashford. After the projected marriage between Marie and her cousin, George of York, the future King George V, failed in spite of Queen Victoria's support, Marie married Ferdinand of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, the heir to the Romanian throne. They became monarchs after the outbreak of the First World War in 1914.

Queen Marie dedicated herself to charitable work during the conflict, working tirelessly as a nurse and setting up her own hospital in the grounds of the Royal Palace in Romania. She was also active in politics, a central character at the Paris Peace Conference, which recognised the unification of all Romanian provinces in one, democratic state. She used her brilliant diplomatic skills and her vast array of connections to secure a favourable outcome.

"From My Heart To Theirs", an article published during the war summoned an entire way of life, dominated by the unconditional love for her adoptive country.

Elwick Place

Elwick Place is officially opened on Saturday 15th December 2018.

Ashford Borough Council has funded the construction of the exciting town centre development, which is opening in phases and includes a new six-screen cinema complete with bar and restaurant, operated by Cineworld's Picturehouse boutique brand. Also opening in December is a 58-bedroom Travelodge hotel, while eight restaurants and retail spaces are also included. It represents a £75 million investment by UK developer Stanhope PLC.

Elwick Place - built on the site of a former cattle market - is part of a wider £520m of investment in development in Ashford town centre under construction or with construction to start soon. For more information visit

Issued on behalf of Ashford Borough Council

For more information contact:

Darren Laws
Public relations
01634 671167
07958 304375