Harrods to return Diana and Dodi statue to Mohamed al Fayed

first_imgEver since the Qatari royal family bought Harrods for a reputed £1.5 billion it has been keen to win back the Royal Family’s patronage and restore a once coveted relationship.The iconic Knightsbridge department store, long a symbol of great opulence and extravagance, had enjoyed unrivalled financial success but since 2000 had lacked the one thing to which ambitious retailers aspire: a royal warrant.Until the ugly aftermath of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales and her lover, Dodi Fayed, Harrods had been the proud holder of continuous royal warrants since 1913.But its new owners were acutely aware that as long as the controversial, three-metre high bronze statue of the pair, entitled Innocent Victims, remained on the lower ground floor, there was little chance of regaining that honour.Now, they have seized the opportunity to remove the shrine and return it to its owner, Dodi’s father Mohammed al Fayed, 88, in the hope that it might one day entice the British monarchy back through its doors.The store said that following the announcement last year that the Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry had commissioned a new sculpture to commemorate their mother, to be erected at Kensington Palace, the time was right to return the statue to the Egyptian tycoon. Workmen carry away the crest representing the Royal Warrant granted by the Prince of Wales in 2000 Harrods said it would “follow due process” with regards to the logistics of its return.Qatari Holding, the Qatari royal family’s investment company, bought Harrods in May 2010, bringing to an end Mr Fayed’s ownership after a quarter of a century.Sources close to the family confirmed that they hoped the sale could lead to a rapprochement with the British monarchy, who had refused to shop at the store since Mr al Fayed accused the Duke of Edinburgh of ordering the murders of his son and the late Princess by staging the 1997 Paris car crash in which they died. Another memorial unveiled in 1998 and consisting of a series of photographs of Diana and Dodi, a wine glass smudged with Diana’s lipstick from their last dinner together at the Ritz in Paris and an “engagement” ring alleged to have been purchased the day before they died, will also be returned. Having recently commemorated the twentieth anniversary of their deaths, Harrods said it was felt “an appropriate time” to move on.Michael Ward, its managing director, said: “We are very proud to have played our role in celebrating the lives of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al-Fayed at Harrods and to have welcomed people from around the world to visit the memorial for the past twenty years.“With the announcement of the new official memorial statue to Diana, Princess of Wales at Kensington Palace, 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.” But it was also keen to ensure a discreet interval before removing the shrine, which Mr al Fayed had begged the new owners to keep and which had attracted thousands of tourists to pay their respects.The statue unveiled in 2005, which depicts Diana and Dodi dancing together beneath the wings of a seagull, proved particularly controversial, its title consistent with Mr al Fayed’s claims that the Duke of Edinburgh had a hand in the deaths of the Princess and his son. In fury, Mr al Fayed ordered all of the remaining warrants to be removed from the facade of Harrods and burned, allowing the “spiteful” act to be filmed for a documentary. They had been displayed since the late Queen Mother first gave her approval in 1938.In a letter sent to the Sunday Telegraph in 2010, he said: “They were a curse and business tripled following their removal.”It is yet to be seen whether the disappearance of Mr al Fayed’s memorial to his son and the late Princess will have any bearing on the fortunes of the department store.The Al Fayed family said in a statement: “We are grateful to Qatar Holdings for preserving the Dodi and Diana memorial at Harrods until now.“It has enabled millions of people to pay their respects and remember these two remarkable people. It is now time to bring them home.” The then Princess Elizabeth, Princess Margaret and Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother leave Harrods after visiting the Christmas grotto in 1938 The previous year, the Queen had dropped Harrods as the provider of Christmas puddings as gifts for her staff in favour of Tesco. Harrods was awarded its first royal warrant in 1913 from Queen Mary. It was subsequently granted more from the Duke of Edinburgh, the Queen, the Queen Mother and the Prince of Wales.But after Mr al Fayed’s outburst, the Duke’s warrant “for gentleman’s outfitting, first granted in 1956, was withdrawn.Buckingham Palace insisted that the decision not to renew the honour in 2000 was taken because of a “significant decline in the trading relationship over several years” with the store.But sources claimed the Palace had lost patience with Mr al Fayed and would not renew any of the royal warrants granted to Harrods as they expired. The then Princess Elizabeth, Princess Margaret and Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother leave Harrods after visiting the Christmas grotto in 1938 Workmen carry away the crest representing the Royal Warrant granted by the Prince of Wales in 2000Credit:Matthew Fearn/PA Mohamed Al Fayed (left) attends the unveiling of the Innocent Victims statue at Harrods in 2005 Mr Al Fayed burns the royal warrants he once held on Harrods in a scene from the film Unlawful KillingCredit:Unlawful Killing Mr Al Fayed burns the royal warrants he once held on Harrods in a scene from the film Unlawful Killing Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Mohamed Al Fayed (left) attends the unveiling of the Innocent Victims statue at Harrods in 2005Credit:Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Imageslast_img

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