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Princess Royal unveils Sir Ernest Shackleton memorial

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Princess Royal unveils Sir Ernest Shackleton memorial

The Princess Royal has unveiled a memorial stone to Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton at Westminster Abbey on the 150th anniversary of his birth.

The Dean of Westminster, David Hoyle, said the service of dedication on Thursday would help sustain Shackleton’s “legacy of wonder”.

Shackleton, who led three British expeditions to the Antarctic, had helped create a “new excitement about science” and a “deeper reverence for the world in which we live”, according to the Very Reverend Hoyle, who dedicated the memorial.

He added: “Shackleton’s name conjures up a little bit of an old and familiar narrative about a great man with remarkable courage and resilience. That is true but it does not do justice to his achievement.

“Shackleton was more than an explorer, he was a storyteller.

“A pioneer in photography and film and an inspiring speaker, he planted the idea and image of the Antarctic in our imaginations.”

The stone is in the Abbey’s south cloister, close to a memorial to pioneering sailors Captain James Cook, Sir Francis Chichester and Sir Francis Drake.

Anne, dressed in a blue-green coat, met guests at the dedication including the stone’s sculptor Will Davies.

Mr Davies incorporated Connemara marble and Kilkenny limestone into the memorial to reflect Shackleton’s Irish heritage – he was born in Kilkea, Co Kildare, on February 15, 1874.

The stone is also inscribed with the names of Shackleton’s expedition ships and his family motto, fortitudine vincimus – by endurance we conquer.

Shackleton’s first experience of the polar regions was as third officer on Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s Discovery expedition of 1901–1904, from which he was sent home early on health grounds.

In 1907, his Nimrod expedition aimed to be the first to reach the South Pole and although this was not achieved, it was the first expedition in history to travel within 100 miles of the South Pole and successfully ascend Mount Erebus, Antarctica’s second highest volcano.

Shackleton’s Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1914-1917 hoped to achieve the first land crossing of Antarctica from the Weddell Sea via the South Pole to the Ross Sea.

The expedition’s ship, Endurance, became stuck in pack ice and sank in the Weddell Sea in 1915, and was lost until it was located by a British-led expedition in 2022, months after the 100th anniversary of Shackleton’s death.

The survival of Shackleton’s crew despite the sinking of Endurance highlighted his exceptional leadership, Westminster Abbey said.

During his lifetime, Shackleton was awarded the Polar Medal and he is remembered as one of the key figures associated with the period known as the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration.

Published: by Radio NewsHub

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