One of the world’s best-known memorials to Princess Diana will soon be out of the public eye.
Harrods, the luxury department store located in London’s Knightsbridge neighborhood, is set to remove a memorial to Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed, the son Egyptian-born businessman Mohammed Al Fayed who Diana was dating at the time of her death. The bronze statue will be returned to Dodi’s father, the former owner of Harrods, who originally put it in place near one of the store’s escalators.
A Harrods spokesman said that after that Prince William and Prince Harry announced their intention to commission a new sculpture to commemorate their mother at Kensington Palace in January 2017, the store’s management team decided was time to return the piece to Mohammed himself. (He sold Harrods to the Qatari Royal family in May 2010 for more than $2 billion.)
“We’re very proud to have welcomed people from around the world to visit the memorial for the past 20 years,” said Harrods managing director Michael Ward. “With the announcement of the new official memorial statue to Diana, Princess of Wales, we feel that the time is right to return this memorial to Mr. Al Fayed and for the public to be invited to pay their respects at the palace.”
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After Diana and Dodi were killed in an August 1997 Paris car crash, Mohammed, 88, commissioned the 9.5 foot tall bronze statue from Harrods design adviser Bill Mitchell, who worked for the Al Fayed family for more than 40 years.
The work, which has drawn countless tourists and visitors since 2005, depicts Dodi and Diana dancing in the waves of the Mediterranean beneath the wings of an albatross, which is supposed to symbolize freedom and eternity. The statue sits on a cylinder base that reads “Innocent Victims” on the side — which is also the title of the piece. It was placed in the store in 2005.
When the statue was unveiled, Mohammed said it was a more “fitting tribute” to Diana than the official memorial fountain in Hyde Park which he described as a “sewer,” according to CNN.
According to British press reports, Harrods’s current owners thought the presence of the memorabilia could hinder the store from regaining prestigious royal warrants that had been withdrawn while Mohammed was the owner.
Another display, unveiled in 1998, comprising a series of photographs of the couple, a lipstick-smudged wine glass from their last dinner together at the Ritz in Paris and a ring said to have been purchased the day before they died, will also be returned to Mohammed.
It’s understood that the Central London store will “follow due process” and ensure a discreet interval before removing the display from its premises.