The Duke of Cambridge unveiling a commemorative statue of legendary explorer Captain Matthew Flinders, commissioned by South Australia, at Australia House, London. (By Jeff Moore)
Prince William attended Australia House in London on Friday to unveil a statue of explorer Matthew Flinders.
The statue commemorates the British captain who between 1801 and 1803 became the first to circumnavigate the island continent, mapping its whole coastline. The navigator and cartographer is also credited with popularising the use of ‘Australia’ as the name of the land mass more commonly referred to as Terra Australis at the time.
Speaking at the unveiling ceremony, The Duke of Cambridge lauded the sculpture’s creator Mark Richards for “telling the story of Captain Flinders with such elegance.”
Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, with Alexander Downer, Australia’s High Comissioner to the UK, at Australia House in London. (By Jeff Moore)
“First, I appreciate the way this work communicates Captain Flinders as a man of action, strength and determination,” Prince William said.
“Second, I very much appreciate the sensitivity of the inscription around the base of the statue.
“Some of you may know that Matthew Flinders had an indigenous Australian on board with whom he clearly had a close rapport. His name was Bungaree, a person Flinders described as ‘worthy and brave’.
”’Worthy and brave’ is a description that is just as apt for Captain Flinders himself.”
Bill Muirhead, the Agent General in London for South Australia, said Flinders had an incredible influence in shaping Australia. In Mr Muirhead’s home state many landmarks and public institutions bear the explorer’s name yet his achievements are largely unknown in the UK.
“I hope that from today his story becomes much more widely appreciated in his home country,” he said.
The statue of Matthew Flinders by sculptor Mark Richards. (By Jeff Moore)
On Saturday, the statue was moved to its place at London’s busy Euston Station which today sits over where Flinders is believed to be buried. It depicts the explorer, along with his cat Trim, over the map of Australia which he drew and called Terra Australis Or Australia.
Flinders died in 1814 just one day before the map was published as part of A Voyage To Terra Australis, the journal of his circumnavigating journey.