The Kelpies were given the royal seal of approval when they were officially opened today by HRH Princess Anne.
Arriving at the head of a flotilla of small boats sailing along the Forth & Clyde Canal, the Princess Royal then met artist Andy Scott, who designed the world’s largest pair of equine sculptures.
He introduced the royal visitor to the Clydesdale horses, Duke – one of his models – and Dan, before she was invited to unveil a plaque commemorating the project.
The colossal Kelpies, which tower over a new section of the historic Forth & Clyde Canal, are the centrepieces of the £43 million Helix project.
Partners Falkirk Council and Scottish Canals were given £25 million from the Big Lottery fund to help transform 350 hectares of underused land between Falkirk and Grangemouth. It now boasts a parkland, visitor attraction and marine hub with the canal and Kelpies at its heart.
More than one million visitors from all over the world have already visited since the sculptures were unveiled in April 2014.
The Helix was alive with activity, from the water to the bank and beyondAndrew Thin, Chairman of Scottish Canals
It is estimated they are boosting the local economy by £1.5 million per year.
Councillor Adrian Mahoney, Falkirk Council’s spokesperson for culture, leisure and tourism, said: “The Kelpies have been great additions to the local area and have helped the wider Helix Park project become a must-see destination for people visiting Scotland.
“I’m delighted Princess Anne took time out of her busy schedule to officially open the sculptures and to hear about the wider work being done to create the Helix.”
Andrew Thin, chairman of Scottish Canals, said: “We are honoured that Her Royal Highness was able to join us to celebrate the official opening of The Kelpies and the new Forth & Clyde extension.
“The Helix was alive with activity, from the water to the bank and beyond, and it really showed how the local community has taken the incredible Kelpies and the canal over which they stand to their hearts.
“Today was a fitting culmination of almost a decade of hard work that saw the partners and local community come together to transform an ambitious idea into a soaring, steel-clad reality.”