LONDON: The world-famous memorial to Princess Diana and Dodi Al-Fayed, who Diana was dating at the time of her death, has been removed from Harrods.
A spokesperson for the London luxury department store previously revealed in January that after 20 years, the statue of the pair — who both died in a Paris car crash in 1997 — would be removed from the store and returned to Dodi’s father, Egyptian-born businessman Mohamed al Fayed, who formerly owned Harrods.
Mohamed told the Daily Mail that the statue had been removed while the department store was closed for Easter, and now resides in his garden in Oxted, Surrey.
“It is a blessing and a comfort to have the statue of Dodi and Princess Diana in the privacy of our family home after having shared it with the public for so many years in Harrods,” he told the outlet.
“Dodi was a wonderful son who lived life to the full and this statue of them both at one of the happiest times of their lives is a perpetual memory to their love and their fulfilled lives,” he added.
Harrods has not immediately commented on this development.
Explaining the decision to remove the statue, a Harrods spokesman previously said the decision was made after Diana’s sons Prince William and Prince Harry announced shortly after the 20th anniversary of their mother’s death in August that they had commissioned a new sculpture.
“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 in January. “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 Al Fayed and for the public to be invited to pay their respects at the palace.”
The bronze statue, 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.
When the statue was unveiled, Mohamed said it was a more appropriate tribute to than the official memorial fountain in Hyde Park which he described as a “sewer,” according to CNN.