The campaign for the poignant installation of ceramic poppies to remain at the Tower of London after Armistice Day has received new support.
“Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red” by ceramic artist Paul Cummins has seen around four million visitors to the Tower of London to watch the poppies gradually fill up the dry moat.
The memorial is run by Historic Royal Palaces who manage the Tower of London and has become an international visitor attraction as Remembrance Day draws closer.
On 11th November the installation will be complete with 888,246 poppies ‘planted’, the number of British fatalities in the First World War.
Since August 5th, the dry moat at the Tower has progressively turned into a sea of red as volunteers place the ceramic poppies which honour those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our liberty. People who have helped include The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge as well as serving soldiers, many of whom will have seen the true horror of conflict on active duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.
There has been an increase in the profile of the beautiful remembrance memorial since the Guardian published a catty attack on the piece, calling it “fake, trite and inward looking – a UKIP style memorial”.
And now the campaign to stop the poppies being removed next week has picked up pace following Mayor Boris Johnson’s call to keep the exhibition for longer.
“The poppy field at the Tower is a unique and poignant focus of remembrance in this centenary year,” Mr Johnson told the Evening Standard.
“It has grown rapidly in popularity, to such an extent that it is now a global visitor attraction.
“I’m keen to explore whether we can keep the exhibition open for longer, to give as many people as possible the chance to see something so incredible, while easing the pressure on numbers.”
Prime Minister David Cameron who this Sunday will join the Queen and other members of the Royal Family at the Cenotaph in Westminster, said that the “extraordinary project” has “brought forward from the British public a huge amount of reverence for those who have given their lives and served our country.”
“The numbers going to see this display have been truly extraordinary” he said.
“It is worth remembering that out of this display a lot of good will come, because, as I understand it, the poppies are being auctioned to raise a lot of money for military and veterans charities that will be there to do good in many years to come. It is an extraordinary display and one that the country can be very proud of.”
The money raised from the sale of the poppies will be divided between six service charities who between them help serving soldiers and their families as well as veterans in a range of financial, emotional and practical ways.
War hero Ben Parkinson MBE, who lost both his legs in an IED blast in Afghanistan, told us exclusively that he backed the campaign, saying he thought the poppies “should definitely stay a few weeks longer.”
And Nigel Farage, who was pictured wiping away a tear after viewing the exhibition this week, told Breitbart London, “I think there’s an opportunity for millions more people to come see the poppies and so we should delay breaking it up.”
A spokesman for the Royal Palaces said: “It has always been intended that the poppies will be in place until 11 November 2014 and after this time they will be cleaned and sent out to all those that have purchased them. The transience of the installation is key to the artistic concept, with the dispersal of the poppies into hundreds of thousands of homes marking the final phase of this evolving installation.”
“We are currently planning further ways in which the Tower of London will be marking the coming years of the centenary and the legacy of the poppies in the moat.”
Many people who have purchased the poppies, including consumer rights campaigner Alice Beer, have said they would be happy to wait a few weeks longer so more people could experience the memorial.