THE Queen is expected to visit Dorchester at the end of the month for the first time in 50 years.
Preparations are currently underway at Poundbury for the unveiling of a statue dedicated to the Queen Mother and the opening of the adjoining Hall and Woodhouse pub-hotel and restaurant complex.
She is expected to be accompanied for the visit, on a date later this month to be confirmed by the Palace, by Prince Philip; Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall.
Work was underway this week putting up scaffolding around the Portland stone plinth for the statue in Queen Mother Square while grass was being cut in the area and at the nearby Duchy of Cornwall offices.
It is thought that the statue itself will be craned into place next week.
Part of the preparations have already included creating an overflow car park on the north side of Kings Point House and a footpath around the north side of the building to help easy access to Queen Mother Square.
The Queen’s visit will be her first to Poundbury, the Duchy development which has been much publicised both nationally and internationally, as Prince Charles’ ‘experiment’ in modern development.
It is believed the Queen will undertake a short walking tour around Queen Mother Square and the new buildings which have recently been opened, including Strathmore House which is said to be based on Buckingham Palace. A look around the rest of Poundbury is also expected, by car.
Those invited to the unveiling have been sworn to secrecy but it is understood than an official announcement about the visit will be made by the end of this week.
The bottom step of the statue is made of York stone with an inscription on the north side of the plinth which suggests that the statue will face into the Square.
The monument will be lit from a number of points and lighting cables will need to be installed which will involve digging up part of the square.
The statue itself is a near replica of the Philip Jackson statue of Her Majesty the Queen Mother in the Mall, dressed in her garter robes. The overall height of the Poundbury monument will be 7.23metres.
While cables are being put in for the new monument power lines will also be laid for lighting for Kings Point House, Royal Pavilion, Strathmore House and the Duchess of Cornwall Inn.
Some of this work is expected to be delayed until after the official unveiling.
Other recent work in the surrounding area has included additional coloured gravel and permanent bollards to replace the reds and white plastic dividers which were put in as a temporary measure earlier this year after complaints about pedestrian safety.