Dedicated to the Czechoslovak airmen who served in the Royal Air Force (RAF) during World War II, The Winged Lion Memorial was unveiled on 17 June 2014. designed by the British sculptor Colin Spofforth, the two metre high lion was cast in bronze at the artistic foundry in Horní Kalná, Hradec Králové Region. When viewed from above, the circular granite covered, concrete plinth pedestal resembles the insignia of the Czech Air Force.
The monument was met with some criticism from Prague’s conservationists, who disliked the location, and the grumblings eventually led to appeal to city hall to request that it be moved. The problem with the protests of the statue is that it’s owned by the Prague 1 district and not City Hall, and the district stands behind it and its location.
During World War II, approximately 2460 Czech and Slovak men and women served in the British Royal Air Force. Many of the Czechoslovaks who had served in the RAF became victims of the communist regime after the war ended.
An inscription on the monument in English and Czech reads:
This monument is an expression of the British Community’s lasting gratitude to the 2,500 Czechoslovak airmen who served with the Royal Air Force between 1940 and 1945 for the freedom of Europe. Many were subsequently persecuted by the communist regime in Czechoslovakia. It was unveiled by the right honourable Sir Nicholas Soames MP on 17th June 2014. It is a gift to the Czech and Slovak peoples from the British community living and working in the Czech and Slovak Republics.
The Winged Lion Facts
- The rivets of the plinth side coverings of the statue’s base replicate the fuselage surface of the WWII aircraft used by the airmen.
- The Winged Lion was dedicated by the British Member of Parliament, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas Soames MP, who is the grandson of Sir Winston Churchill.
- About a fifth of the Czech and Slovak airmen that served with the British Royal Air Force of them did not survive the war.
- The event was attended by nine former Czechoslovak RAF members.
- The dedication ceremony featured music performed by the Royal Air Force College band and by the Pipes and Drums of the Queen’s Royal Hussars.
- Almost 99% of the three million Czech koruna raised for the Winged Lion were donated by the British community in the Czech and Slovak Republics.