Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

England's Tsar Forward

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

England's Tsar Forward

Article excerpt

A curious thing has just happened in Ipswich--a statue to Prince Alexander Obolensky, a Russian emigre-turned-British national, has been unveiled. The honour is in recognition, somewhat belatedly, of a brilliant try scored by the 19-year-old rugby player.

"The Flying Prince", as Obolensky was nicknamed, scored the try, acclaimed by the former Observer editor Donald Trelford as "England's greatest ever", in the English team's first ever defeat of New Zealand's All Blacks at Twickenham in 1936. Obolensky's legend is lent added poignancy by his death just a few years later. During the Second World War he served in the RAF, and in 1940, his Hurricane crash-landed on the outskirts of Ipswich.


The memorial project was supported by Roman Abramovich among others: the Chelsea owner stumped up [pounds sterling]5,000 towards the [pounds sterling]50,000 cost of the statue.

The project also had "backing" from the Russian ambassador, according to Princess Alexandra Obolensky, the prince's niece and closest living British relative. A representative of the embassy was among dignitaries who attended the unveiling of the 15-ft bronze-and-stone statue, an event that was covered by the Russian media. It is difficult to imagine any of this happening during the Soviet Union's Communist years: Obolensky's aristocratic family fled Russia after the 1917 Bolshevik revolution, a year after his birth.

Even with Russia's communist past behind it, the statue is curious in a couple of respects. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.