The Queen Victoria Memorial in the Queen Victoria Gardens is located near the intersection of St Kilda Road and Alexandra Avenue, Melbourne.
On the death of Queen Victoria (1819-1901), the citizens of Melbourne decided that they should build a memorial tothe Queen. Funds for the memorial were raised through public subscription and James White (1861-1918), who had a distinguished record in memorials and sculpture, was chosen to undertake the work. An appropriate site was chosen near the new Alexandra Gardens. Substantial work had to be undertaken at the site to prepare it for the memorial. Under the supervision of the City of Melbourne's Surveyors Office, buildings were demolished, soil was removed and the whole area landscaped into a more pleasing shape with new paths and garden beds. A mound was created to make the memorial more prominent and easily viewed from St Kilda Road.
The memorial itself is over 10 metres in height the figure of the Queen represented as Empress with crown, spectre and orb, symbols of her regal power. The figure of the queen is flanked by imperial lions. The Queen and the other figures in the memorial are of Carrara marble from Italy, while the architectural features of the memorial are of Harcourt and Swedish granite. The allegorical figures of four young women in an art nouveau style represent justice, wisdom, history and progress. These figures also record the Queen's life with the dates of her birth, accession, marriage and death.
The memorial was not without controversy and White was criticized at the time for sending the carving work away to Italy, and not using Australian labour. The memorial was also considered obscure in meaning and not a good likeness of the Queen. Because of this, White's work on the memorial ruined his reputation.
The memorial was unveiled on Empire Day (May 24) 1907 by Lt. Governor Madden. There were speeches and a military guard of honour. Madden spoke of 'presenting Victoria's Statue to Victoria's People'. The Lord Mayor in his speech outlined the Council's work on providing a suitable setting for the memorial. Initially the memorial could be seen quite clearly from St Kilda Road. Later tree growth and road re-alignment has reduced the impact of its dramatic setting.
How is it significant?
The Queen Victoria Memorial is of historic and aesthetic significance to the state of Victoria.
Why is it significant?
The Queen Victoria Memorial is of historic importance to the State of Victoria as a memorial which contributed to the formation of a national identity at Federation, celebrating links with Britain and the Empire as well as celebrating the life and reign of the monarch for whom the Colony and the State was named.
The Queen Victoria Memorial is of aesthetic importance to the State of Victoria as a part of the beautification of the Melbourne with appropriate parks, gardens and memorials.