Duchess unveils high-flying sculpture by cousin

THE Duchess of York yesterday unveiled a new sculpture which will be the centrepiece of a £70 million development in the centre of Inverness.

Sarah Ferguson, who retains the title Countess of Inverness, took the wraps off the Falcon’s Return, honouring a long-standing promise to her cousin, Leonie Gibbs, the local artist who created the sculpture.

The 10ft-high statue showing a falconer with a peregrine falcon perched on his hand, is in the new food court of the Eastgate II shopping centre which opened in March.

It depicts the noble sport of falconry, often practised by Scottish kings, and also celebrates the name of the Falcon Ironworks, which originally stood on the site of the shopping centre. The ironworks gave its name to Falcon Square, the civic space created as part of the new centre.

The duchess said: "I am thrilled to be back in Inverness and am more than ever proud to be here on behalf of Leonie. The statue represents the freedom of the country. It is bringing the heart of Inverness into the city."