Duchess of Cambridge visits Natural History Museum
Group shot: The Duchess of Cambridge and schoolchildren pose for a photograph with Dippy (PA)
The Duchess of Cambridge today said goodbye to an old relic that feels like it had been in situ at the National History Museum forever.
The future Queen Consort bid farewell to “Dippy” the diplodocus that for more than 100 years has been star attention at one of London’s top tourist destinations.
Dippy, which since 1979 has greeted visitors as they enter the central hall, is about to be dismantled before going on a nationwide two-year tour.
Its place will be taken by the skeleton of a blue whale, which is not only bigger than Dippy – 25.2 metres rather than 21.3, and weighing 4.5 tonnes – but also has the virtue of being real.
The Duchess of Cambridge makes a dinosaur egg at the children’s tea party (PA)
Dippy, which was given to the museum in 1905, is a plaster cast of a diplodocus skeleton made from the fossilised bones of five separate individuals.
For the farewell ceremony, which involved the cutting of a diplodocus cake, the duchess joined a tea party for children from Oakington Manor Primary School in Wembley, which works with her mental health charity Place2Be.
As they gathered around Dippy for a group photograph, the duchess asked the children which was their favourite dinosaur.
Eduarda, 10, said: “She said George likes the T Rex because he is the biggest and the loudest.”
Amani, 10, said: “She was asking us if we knew the story of Curious George [a monkey in a children’s book] and how he climbed up on the diplodocus. Everyone did.
“We asked her about her home lifestyle and her children. She said that Charlotte is very chatty and likes doing play dates with George. George is interested in dinosaurs and volcanoes.”
The Duchess of Cambridge examines a replica Diplodocus fossil as she attends a children’s tea party (PA)
Sir Michael Dixon, the museum’s director, said that the duchess had paid private visits to the museum with the children. “George would have loved to come today.”
He added: “She remarked on the fact that as her children get older she is going to have to mug up on the names of the dinosaurs. I said ‘Don’t worry, the children will make you do that.’”
The plans for Dippy’s replacement prompted outrage in some quarters when they were announced last year, and a Twitter campaign was launched with the hashtag #savedippy.
However the museum is confident that the the national tour, in which Dippy will be shown in eight different venues between 2008 and 2010, will prove popular.
Dippy’s last day on show at the Natural History Museum will be on January 4, 2017. Conservators will take the next 12 months preparing him for his tour, which will begin in early 2018 and last until late 2020.
A bronze replica of Dippy, cast from the same moulds as the original, will eventually be put on display in the museum grounds.
Article by Robert Jobson and Hatty Collier, The Evening Standard.
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