Harrods Cuts Tie to Royal Family

BySue Leeman

L O N D O N, July 9, 2000 -- Stung by Prince Philip’s decision to withdraw hisroyal warrant, Harrods owner Mohamed Al Fayed said Sunday he willnot be reapplying for similar seals of approval from QueenElizabeth II or Prince Charles, ending a 45-year associationbetween the royal family and the upscale emporium.

Al Fayed added that Philip, the queen’s husband — whom Al Fayedhas accused of masterminding the 1997 Paris car crash that killedPrincess Diana and his son, Dodi — is no longer welcome in thestore.

“We are proud of the Harrods reputation as the world’s fineststore and we naturally welcome discerning shoppers from all overthe world,” Al Fayed said in a statement. “The royal family, withthe exception of Prince Philip, are welcome to shop at Harrods atany time.”

A Buckingham Palace spokesman said the move followed “thetailing off of trade over the past few years. It’s Mr. Al Fayed’sdecision.”

Centuries-Old Tradition

The royal family first issued warrants to tradesmen in theMiddle Ages, and some 800 companies currently hold about 1,100warrants between them to supply goods to the royal family. One ofthe earliest went to Thomas Hewytt to supply King Henry VIII with“swannes and cranes and all kinds of wildfowl.”

Harrods’ Royal Warrants from the queen, held since 1955, and thePrince of Wales, held since 1980, both expire at the end of 2001.

“Since neither the queen nor Prince Charles have shopped inHarrods for several years, displaying the Royal Crest would betotally misleading and hypocritical,” Al Fayed said.

All royal insignia will be removed from the storefront by theend of the summer, he added.

Prince vs. Tycoon

Buckingham Palace announced in January that Philip waswithdrawing his royal warrant from Harrods after more than 40years, citing a “significant decline in the trading relationshipover several years” with the store.

But few doubted that the prince was retaliating for Al Fayed’soutburst during his libel suit last November against lawmaker NeilHamilton, in which he accused Philip of directing British secretservices in organizing the Paris car crash.

Investigators say the crash was an accident, but Al Fayedmaintains the royal family arranged the accident because they didnot like Diana’s dating an Egyptian.

Al Fayed twice has been refused a British passport because ofquestions about his honesty and his admission that he putlegislators, including Hamilton, on his payroll.

Harrods, which received its first royal warrant from Queen Maryin 1913, had had Philip’s warrant, “for gentleman’s outfitting,”since 1956.

“Should [the royal family] return to our store to spend anyof their vast fortune with us, then we would reconsider ourposition with regards to applying for the royal warrants,” theHarrods statement added.

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