A HISTORIC reunion took place in Petersfield on Monday when a King reclaimed his equine throne in the heart of the town.

Dozens of people gathered around The Square to watch the repaired body of William III get re-acquainted with his noble steed.

Hampshire County Council asked Rupert Harris Conservation to give “King Billy” some much-needed R&R – repairs and restoration – early this summer as his right arm needed re-attaching and his ankle was cracked.

The council-funded repair work went smoothly with lifting experts from MTech skilfully manoeuvring the statue back into place around 2pm.

King Billy Work Pic2
Getting ready for lift off (Tindle/Paul Ferguson)

“The repair work went okay but some of the previous repairs gave us a bit of a headache,” said Jackie Rumsey.

“There was some car body filler and wood screws inside, so some of the previous work was a bit crude.”

Finishing work should be finished by today with the specialist restorers concluding that the statue is structurally sound. A puddle which has been inside the horse’s belly for decades still remains, however, along with metal engravings from the 19th and 20th centuries.

There was also a last-minute bid by David Jeffery to place a time capsule inside the statue before its recoupling.

The July 20 Post article about King Billy’s removal was sealed in a waterproof pouch recommended by Ben from Mountain Warehouse for future generations to discover.

King Billy Work 3
David Jeffery managed to squeeze a July 20 copy of The Post - featuring an article about William III's removal - into a time capsule before the statue's recoupling. (Tindle/Tim Thompson)

Attention now turns to tomorrow’s “official reopening” at 5.30pm and how to prevent William from incurring further injuries.

His 2021 arm injury was blamed on hi-jinx behaviour – although there have been rumours it was down to some over-enthusiastic cleaning – with the mayor keen on surrounding railings to prevent similar incidents.

Rob Humby, Hampshire County Council leader, said he was delighted the statue’s restoration has been successful.