Nov. 16, 2023 - Queen Charlotte is standing taller than ever. The freshly refinished statue was unveiled on Oct. 20, in its new royal residence inside the CLT terminal lobby. With a new plinth the statue soars 46 feet high.
The iconic statue is at the center of the Airport’s $608 million Terminal Lobby Expansion in an area called the Queen’s Court. Not only is the 3,000-pound bronze likeness of the city’s namesake stunning, but the entire space around it is fit for royalty.
“The Queen is the anchor that ties the whole space together,” said CLT Chief Infrastructure Officer Jack Christine.
The Queen’s Court is a large, open area on the Baggage Claim level where families, friends and those meeting and greeting each other can congregate. “It’s really the central gathering point in the lobby,” Christine said.
There are a variety of seating options including circular benches around the trees, rocking chairs, soft, colorful ottomans as well as tables and chairs. The four trees in Queen’s Court are made of petrified wood, so they are naturally beautiful, but require no watering and very little maintenance.
Across from the statue is The Queen’s Kitchen, CLT’s first full-service restaurant outside of the secure area. It serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, with unique menu items like the western omelet wrap, pimento cheese dip, smoked brisket sandwich, BBQ chicken flatbread and more. You also can grab a cup of coffee, draft beer, wine and cocktails including “Her Majesty’s Espresso Martini.”
The Queen’s Court is so beautiful it’s easy to forget it’s part of Baggage Claim. “This space has always been functional, but now it’s also aesthetically pleasing,” Christine said. “It’s open from floor to ceiling, which gives us the opportunity to bring in natural lighting, something we’ve never had before.”
Lining the edge of the Ticketing level that overlooks Queen’s Court is a ribbon of gold. It is a tribute to Charlotte’s history as one of the original gold rush towns in 19th century America. Charlotte had one of the first U.S. Mints outside of Philadelphia, but it stopped striking coins in the 1860s.
Above the statue is the oculus skylight that bathes the Queen Charlotte statue in natural light. The oculus design was inspired by the queen’s crown. A lighted octagon below the window highlights the gold that frames the oculus, another nod to Charlotte’s golden past.
Grand Gingham Entrances
The entrances on either side of Queen’s Court are a patchwork of blue gingham, inspired by the region’s rich textile industry legacy. The gingham pattern is a southern staple, often seen in dresses, covering picnic tables, on a bedspread or hanging on curtain rods. The blues reflect the Carolinas’ renowned blue skies and are used in all vital entrances and exits throughout the Airport, creating a consistent experience for travelers.
Here’s a royal history lesson on the British monarch for whom Charlotte is named and the statue that has been greeting people at CLT for more than 30 years.
Princess Sophie Charlotte from the Mecklenburg-Strelitz area of northern Germany married King George III in 1761, becoming Queen of England when she was 17 years old. To honor her, the English settlers in this area named their newly formed county Mecklenburg and the county seat Charlotte. Her crown remains a symbol of the city of Charlotte today, also known as the Queen City.
In the 1980s, a private group known as the Queen’s Table donated $250,000 for a sculpture that would represent the city at the Airport. The group selected Washington, D.C., artist, Raymond Kaskey to create the statue and it was dedicated on Sept. 18, 1990. Describing the pose, Kaskey said it signifies motion, held up by the wind at her back. The crown in her hand is a welcoming gesture to the pedestrian.
At first, the statue stood outside between two parking decks. It was relocated in 2013 to accommodate the new Hourly Deck, then moved again in 2020. In October 2021, the sculpture was transported to Carolina Bronze in Seagrove, N.C., for restoration and returned to the terminal the following June to her final destination inside the Terminal Lobby. Watch the journey.
Workers meticulously refinished the statue using glass beads to blast off the finish. Then, a heated and sprayed on a cobalt layer was applied, and finally a green wash that gives the statue a verdigris finish. Verdigris is a layering technique that mimics the turquoise hue that brass, copper and bronze take on naturally over time, giving the statue a timeless look.
Hear how Kaskey describes the creation of the Queen Charlotte statue.