A statue of the first British female prime minister has been egged and booed within hours after it was erected in her hometown on Sunday.
Less than two hours after the 20-foot-tall statue of Baroness Margaret Thatcher was lowered onto its 10-foot-high granite plinth in Grantham, Lincolnshire, a protester threw eggs from behind a temporary fence surrounding the memorial.
One egg hit the statue before a cry of “oi” was heard.
Egg residue and a piece of shell could be seen on the statue’s lower half.
A man in a white T-shirt was seen holding an egg carton in one hand and preparing to throw an egg from the other.
Lincolnshire Police said the force received reports of criminal damage to the statue shortly after 10 a.m. on Sunday.
Police turned up at the scene within minutes of the incident. A spokeswoman said “no arrests have been made” and “inquiries are still ongoing.”
A number of people stopped by the statue to take selfies, but some motorists driving past the statue in Grantham could be heard booing loudly.
One man shouted “tear it down” while another said, “This is no good for Grantham, is it?”
The £300,000 ($368,000) statue is situated in between two existing statues of Sir Isaac Newton and Frederick Tollemache in the town’s Civic Quarter.
In February 2019, South Kesteven District Council’s planning committee unanimously voted in favour of the Thatcher statue, which was originally intended for Parliament Square in Westminster, London.
A document submitted to the council (pdf) before the vote said that there is a possibility that the statue would be “a likely target for politically motivated vandals.”
The document recommended that the statue should be placed on a “sufficiently high plinth” that is difficult to climb in order to avoid desecration or damage and be subject to “adequate” CCTV surveillance and lighting.
After a large-scale £100,000 ($122,000) unveiling ceremony was approved by the council in 2020, a Facebook group proposing an “egg-throwing contest” at the event attracted interest from more than 13,000 people.
Around 2,400 others visited the Facebook page to say they would go to the event including “egg-throwing … and potentially graffiti art.”
Before planning permission was given to the statue, the only marking of Thatcher in the town was a plaque on the corner of North Parade and Broad Street to show where she was born.
Kelham Cooke, leader of South Kesteven District Council, said the statue is about “inspiring, educating, and informing people about someone who represents a significant part of Grantham’s heritage.”
“This memorial statue of the late Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven will be a fitting tribute to a truly unique political figure,” Cooke said.
“Margaret Thatcher will always be a significant part of Grantham’s heritage. She and her family have close ties with Grantham. She was born, raised, and went to school here,” he added.
“It is, therefore, appropriate that she is commemorated by her hometown and that the debate that surrounds her legacy takes place here in Grantham.
Cooke said that “we must never hide from our history and this memorial will be a talking point for generations to come.”
A council spokesman said on Sunday that the Public Memorials Appeal, which funded the monument through donations, will host an official unveiling ceremony at a later date.
PA Media contributed to this report.