Princess tells of Ipswich statue joy

A DESCENDENT of English rugby legend Prince Alexander Obolensky today told of her family's pride over Ipswich's decision to build a statue in memory of the Russian-born hero.

Grant Sherlock

A DESCENDENT of English rugby legend Prince Alexander Obolensky today told of her family's pride over Ipswich's decision to build a statue in memory of the Russian-born hero.

Prince Obolensky's niece Alexandra Hulse said relatives of “the flying prince” had been overwhelmed by the town's support for the memorial.

Mrs Hulse, who retains the title Princess Alexandra Obolensky, said: “If he was looking down he'd be very proud. And obviously it would be great if he were alive today. He would be absolutely overwhelmed.

“Everybody in the family is very proud and we're quite humbled by it.”

The £50,000 statue project has been swamped with support since Ipswich Borough Council chief executive James Hehir came up with the idea.

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The avid rugby fan believed Ipswich should recognise its links to Prince Obolensky, who was made famous by two legendary tries he scored in England's first defeat of the All Blacks in 1936.

The prince, who Mrs Hulse described as “very modest and quite shy”, is buried at Ipswich Cemetery after he was killed when his Hawker Hurricane fighter crashed on landing at Martlesham Heath in 1940.

Billionaire Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich donated £5,000, while the Rugby Football Union gave a similar amount and Ipswich businessman Graeme Kalbraier, who runs town centre call handling firm Call Connection, gave £20,000.

Mrs Hulse, who runs a gift boutique in Farnham, Hampshire, and lives in Odiham on the Hampshire/Surrey border, plans to travel to Ipswich to witness the unveiling of the three-metre statue of her uncle in Cromwell Square.

She said: “We are just incredibly supportive of the initiative. Now it's actually going ahead it's very exciting.”

Prince Obolensky's family fled Russia when he was a baby and made their new home in England. His father Prince Serge - Mrs Hulse's grandfather - was a commander in the Tsar's Imperial Horse Guards in St Petersburg. After arriving in the UK, Prince Serge retrained as a civil engineer while his son Alexander went on to become a rugby legend.

The winger's tries against the All Blacks have led to him being immortalised in the Rugby Hall of Fame.

He was serving in the Royal Air Force when his plane crashed at Martlesham.

Do you support the statue project? Is there another famous person from Ipswich who deserves similar recognition? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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