A dispute over a handbag is holding up a statue of Margaret Thatcher


LONDON — Local authorities have denied planning permission for a statue of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher near the British parliament, amid a dispute over the work’s failure to include a handbag and fears that it could be vandalized by critics of the controversial leader, reports said on Friday.

The Royal Parks, which manages the land in Parliament Square, where other British and international leaders are commemorated, objected to the statue because of doubts over the support of Thatcher’s family, The Guardian and other media said.

Thatcher’s daughter, Carol, had reportedly objected to the 3-meter, 300,000-pound (US$390,000) bronze statue because it does not feature Thatcher’s trademark handbag.

A residents’ group also asked for a delay, partly because the statue is “controversial enough to risk vandalism.”

But Theresa May, Britain’s second female premier after Thatcher, insisted on Friday that it should go ahead.

“There should be no suggestion that the threat of vandalism should stop a statue of Margaret Thatcher from being put up,” the Telegraph and other media quoted May as saying in Hamburg, where she is attending a G-20 summit.

The residents’ group, the Thorney Island Society, highlighted an informal rule that a statue of a former leader should not be erected until at least 10 years after their death. Thatcher died in 2013.

It said a statue of former South African anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela was given space in the square six years after his death, “but that should not set a precedent, especially as Mandela was an entirely uncontroversial figure, respected throughout the world.”