A spectacular tree, made of paper doves which were hand-folded by its German designer and a group of students, is on display at Queen Victoria's former Isle of Wight home.

The Freedom tree, on show at English Heritage's Osborne, links the Island to its twin of 40 years - the German region of Coburg, in Bavaria.

On Friday, it was unveiled in the historic Durbar Room and, made from metal poles and 200 origami doves, it is on loan until January 7, from the city which was Prince Albert's birthplace.

Anna Hünnerkopf originally created it, to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the births of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, with the help of Coburg's University of Applied Sciences.

Isle of Wight County Press: Anna Hünnerkopf designed the Freedom treeAnna Hünnerkopf designed the Freedom tree (Image: IWCP)

They had been challenged to reimagine the Christmas tree for the modern age.

The 26-year-old told the County Press: "My aim was to make something light and inspiring and the result was the Freedom tree.

"I folded the doves myself, with a group of students, for a whole day. There were about 600 birds. My muscles hurt the next day!

"The Durbar Room is perfect for this tree. Queen Victoria put hers here, so it's even more special."

Isle of Wight County Press: The Freedom tree, watched over by one of Osborne's more traditional treesThe Freedom tree, watched over by one of Osborne's more traditional trees (Image: IWCP)

English Heritage hopes it will encourage visitors to the historic estate, in East Cowes, to have a moment of peaceful reflection during the busy Christmas period.

In 2019, the Freedom tree was shown at London's V&A museum and another version was suspended in a church in Coburg.

"It was overwhelming to see it at the V&A Museum. It's such a great honour to call myself its designer. I still love the design and other people can see it now and interpret it," said Anna Hünnerkopf.

On hand to celebrate its arrival were Isle of Wight Council leader, Cllr Phil Jordan, who said it was fantastic and Cllr Julie Jones-Evans, who represents tourism at County Hall, who said its "sentiment was more pertinent than ever." 

Meanwhile, Cllr Claire Critchison, IW Council's chairperson, is funding a trip to Coburg next week - combining her visit with a special personal celebration.

Isle of Wight County Press: The Freedom tree in the Durbar Room at OsborneThe Freedom tree in the Durbar Room at Osborne (Image: IWCP)

She said: "I will be travelling as the official representative of the Isle of Wight Council.

"Twinning was created to forge links between areas. I've learned lots about the significance of it." 

East Cowes' Cllr Karl Love said: "It's amazing to have these international links.

"We're privileged. It raises the profile of the Isle of Wight and East Cowes and I think that's something quite special.

"Once up a time, an Empire was run from our Island. Having the tree brings unity for the people of Germany, the people of Coburg and the people of the Isle of Wight."

Isle of Wight County Press: IW Council Leader, Cllr Phil JordanIW Council Leader, Cllr Phil Jordan (Image: IWCP)

The Island's tourism boss, Will Myles, said it would help grow the number international visitors to the Island, which is currently around six per cent of tourists.

  • See the Freedom tree for yourself by taking a guided tour of the ground floor of the house, led by a guide in the role of a character from Osborne's past.

Michael Selzer, head of marketing for Coburg, said: "The Freedom tree is the right sign in current times. It's really special." 

He also presented English Heritage with a scale model, in the hope it would have a permanent presence at the house and estate, while the organisation's director for the south, Tom King, said the day had been about meeting friends.