County’s birthday celebration capped off with unveiling of new bust, exhibit

By: Sherry Williams Kidd | Email: Click Here
Posted: July 25, 2018 | 1:10 p.m.

New bust and exhibit honors county’s namesake, Prince George of Denmark 

PRINCE GEORGE – The Prince George Regional Heritage Center planned and held two separate exceptional events to commemorate the 315th anniversary of the founding of Prince George County. The first event was the official unveiling of a bust of Prince George of Denmark, the county’s namesake, held in the foyer of the county’s administration building. The second event, which was open to all county residents and visitors, was held just after the unveiling ceremony and was an entirely free supper. 

The supper had originally been scheduled to be held on the lawn of the Historic Courthouse but was moved indoors to the Prince George Library due to the inclement weather last Saturday afternoon.

Invited guests, dignitaries, and even a couple of “far-away visitors” filled the foyer of the county’s administration building for the official unveiling ceremony. 

“This is a wonderful occasion,” said Marlene Waymack, Prince George Board of Supervisors. “This is a celebration of our country’s foundation. We are so very proud of our heritage. We were just looking at the map, and it shows how we were once a huge county, and we kept losing parts of our land that became other counties and cities. Prince George is still quite large, but it is very interesting to see just how large and vast we used to be.”

Dr. Mark Moore, Chair, Dinwiddie County Board of Supervisors, was also in attendance at the ceremony. “Dinwiddie and Prince George share a lot of things in common from a historical point of view. This is a great day for Prince George, the unveiling of the bust, which has been in the works for quite some time, and the official 315th-anniversary celebration and supper. We are brothers and sisters to Prince George, and it is a good day to come and celebrate with our partners and friends.”

There was live music prior to the beginning of the ceremony, by the Miller-Temple band, with special accompaniment by Phillip Dickey on the trumpet. During the ceremony, they also performed both the Danish and American National Anthems.

The unveiling ceremony kicked off with opening remarks by Percy Ashcraft, Prince George County Administrator. “This is a great day for all Prince George residents, of all ages, from all walks of life, because of the importance of the history of our families from the southern area of Charles City County. What followed later were 17 counties that broke off from Prince George County that would then create their own destinies. We will have a new exhibit, along with the bust, that will teach residents about our history, with a particular focus on our school-aged children. We want them to have a better understanding of Prince George County history, and of our place in American history.”

After his remarks, Ashcraft introduced and welcomed special guests, Christiane Lauritzen, Senior Advisor, Embassy of Denmark, U.s. , and Heidi Hammer Nielsen, Head of Administration, Royal Danish Embassy, U.S. Lauritzen thanked Prince George for their gracious welcome and invitation to the unveiling. “We are honored to be here. What better way to celebrate our country’s great diplomatic relationship. We have strong political and economic ties. We share a common history, and above all, we share common values and ideas. So, I hope this exhibition will serve to shed light on our shared history and relationship.”

The bust of Prince George of Denmark unveiled, flanked by Danish dignitaries, Christiane Lauritzen and Heidi Hammer Nielsen, Head of Administration, Royal Danish Embassy, U.S.

After much fanfare and ceremony, the moment of the much-anticipated unveiling of the bust of Prince George of Denmark, that had been in the works for well over a year, finally arrived. Flanked by the two visiting Danish dignitaries, the drape covering the bust was removed.

The response from attendees was exuberant, enthusiastic, and dramatic. Everyone approved. The beautiful bronze bust is richly detailed, giving everyone an accurate depiction of the Prince’s true image. Many in attendance used the word “exquisite.” Frank Foster was the conceptual designer of the bust. 

Design and installation were performed by Riggs Ward Design, with special input by Michael Radtke and Chris King. The two-and-a-half foot by three-foot bust is truly a precious and amazing edition to Prince George County’s and America’s history, and will no doubt be an exceptional and cherished piece of history and artwork for centuries to come!

Due to space limitations, attendance at the unveiling ceremony was by invitation only. The new exhibit, featuring the bust of Prince George, will be open to the public each weekday from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

At the completion of the unveiling ceremony, attendees made their way over to the Prince George Library where they were met by county residents and other attendees of the 315th Founder’s Day Supper. The two Danish dignitaries, Christiane Lauritzen and Heidi Hammer Nielsen, were both excited to meet Barry Royer, a Prince George resident that has long been known as one of the county’s official, unofficial historians. Royer has long conducted research and studied at many Virginia courthouses, libraries, dusty old document storage rooms, and the Library of Congress in documenting a true and accurate depiction of much of Prince George’s history.

There was a town Cryer, in full period dress, ringing his bell, that exuberantly entered the hall welcoming everyone to the 315th birthday celebration. There were also several area dignitaries, politicians, and notables that gave remarks prior to the supper. Ann C. Easterling, Research Consultant to the Heritage Center, gave a really quick, but comprehensive, 5-minute overview of the history of “Prince George, the Man.” “In 1653, the King and Queen of Denmark welcomed their sixth child, who was their second son, into the world, and they named their baby boy, George. So, George’s older brother, Christian, was on a set path. He was going to be the next King of Denmark. So, what do you do with a second son of a King? You educate him. George traveled throughout Europe and he studied, and he learned a great deal. So, what’s next for this second son of a King? The military. George did very well in the military. He distinguished himself on the battlefield. Once, he rescued his brother, who was then King Christian V, from the clutches of the enemy. So, what is next for George, our military hero? As a royal Prince, he needs to marry well and advantageously for his country, so a marriage was arranged with the Queen of England’s niece, Lady Ann, creating an alliance between England and Denmark. Fortunately, it turned out to be a happy marriage, which was not always the case with arranged marriages. George was not that crazy about politics or court-life, so he was content to be at a good distance from the throne. He was only the nephew-in-law of King Charles. So, all is well. Except, King Charles died without a legitimate heir to the throne. So, his brother, Lady Ann’s Father, becomes King; so now Lady Ann becomes Princess Anne, and George is now the son-in-law of the King—much closer than nephew-in-law! Now, England decided it didn’t care much for this Catholic King in their Protestant-Anglican country, which is a whole other story. So, Princess Ann’s older sister, Mary, married to a Dutch Nobleman, William, was asked to return to England to rule. Now, these two are the William and Mary that we all know. So once again, all is well. Then, at age 32, Mary dies of smallpox, before having any heirs. So, who is left to ascend to the throne? Why of course, none other than Princess Anne, who becomes Queen Anne of Great Britain, and Prince George is her consort. This was a place that George had not wanted to be—right in the thick of court-life and politics.”

The crowd of dignitaries, visitors, and Prince George residents gather for an amazing supper inside the Prince George library, following the unveiling ceremony.

Easterling’s short, but interesting and informative assessment of the life and times of the county’s namesake, gave everyone a keen insight into the man they knew so little about. Many in attendance commented on how little they had actually known about the life of Prince George.

The supper and fellowship were both wonderful. Throughout the entire supper, the beautiful live background music was provided by the Miller-Temple band, with special accompaniment by Phillip Dickey on the trumpet. Prior to the serving of ice-cream and cake (after all, it was a 315th birthday celebration), there was a toast to Prince George of Denmark, Prince George County, and to all those that worked so hard to make the event possible. 

An amazing evening was had by all. Happy Birthday Prince George County!

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