The controversial Fourth Plinth project in London's Trafalgar Square was conceived by the Royal Society of Arts in 1999, after insufficient funds for a previously slated statue could be found, and bickering over who should be honoured with the location left the space empty. The plinth has been home to Turner Prize winner Mark Wallinger's Ecce Homo (a life-size man on a larger than life platform), Regardless of History by Bill Woodrow, Monument by Rachel Whiteread (who cast the plinth itself and reproduced it in transparent resin), Mark Quinn (a marble statue of the armless and near-legless artist Alison Lapper), and Thomas Schutte (an architectural building of coloured glass called Hotel for the Birds). Forthcoming projects include Yinka Shonibare and Antony Gormley (who plans to allow 24 hour a day access to the plinth, one person at a time, an hour each).
According to the Guardian today, these projects are merely seat-warmers for the Queen. A statue of her majesty atop a horse will be commissioned for a permanent sculpture, upon her death.
Alongside the Turner Prize, the Fourth Plinth is one of the more high-profile venues where the debate over contemporary art takes place in the city. Earlier this year, the chief executive of trading house Tullett Prebon, Terry Smith, began campaigning to see a likeness of Air Chief Marshal Sir Keith Rodney Park take up residency on the plinth, in recognition of his work as commander of No. 11 Group RAF during the Battle of Britain. He offered to pay a quarter of a million dollars for a permanent statue acceptable to "ordinary Londoners."