Copenhagen’s iconic Little Mermaid gets her prince

Agence France-Presse
For almost a century, Copenhagen's Little Mermaid statue has perched alone in the harbor.

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AFP) – For almost a century, Copenhagen’s iconic Little Mermaid statue has perched alone on a rock in the harbor, wistfully pining for the prince she has been promised — and now she will finally get her man.

The city of Helsingoer, or Elsinore as Shakespeare wrote, will on Saturday, June 2, unveil a suitable companion to Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytale mermaid, in the shape and form of HAN (HIM, in Danish).

The stainless steel young male figure, made by sculptors Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset, is to perch on his own steel rock in a similar pose in Helsingoer harbor, watching the fleets of luxury liners that pass through the Oeresund Strait on their way to the Little Mermaid.

“Saturday will be an exciting day. I look forward to seeing people’s reactions when they actually see him,” Helsingoer mayor Johannes Hecht-Nielsen told AFP.

HAN has been given a prominent place in front of the 600-year-old maritime city’s new Culture Yard, where until a few years ago yachts and ships were built for the wealthy and the world’s biggest shipping companies.

“It’s a beautiful sculpture and it has lots of curious details — like the eye that blinks and the mirror effect,” Hecht-Nielsen said.

While Hecht-Nielsen and the town’s 25 counsellors do not regret their decision to choose a shiny, naked, flipperless merman, the choice has not been without critics who would rather have seen a statue commemorating the now defunct shipyard’s illustrious past.

“The shipyard is the past and culture is the future,” Hecht-Nielsen said.

At a cost of around three million Danish kroner (403,700 euros, $500,000 dollars), the city is hoping its new acquisition will attract an increasing number of tourists.

The Little Mermaid, inspired by a character in Andersen’s 1837 fairytale of the same name, is a 175-kilogram (385-pound) statue by Edvard Eriksen.

She was commissioned in 1909 by Carl Jacobsen, the son of the founder of the famous Carlsberg brewery, and has been one of Denmark’s main tourist attractions since 1913.

During the years of rebellion in the 1960s, the statue was upended, decapitated twice and lost an arm, while more recent protesters have resorted to covering it with a burka and a Muslim headscarf.

The Little Mermaid, who in Andersen’s tale stands for innocence and love, has also been painted red, pink and green and had a dildo attached to her wrist. – Agence France-Press

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