COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Denmark’s famed Little Mermaid statue left her perch in the Copenhagen harbour Thursday and started a journey to the World Expo in Shanghai — the first trip abroad in her 96-year history.
The 1.5-meter landmark, which honours the memory of Danish fairy tale writer Hans Christian Andersen, was lifted by a crane and lowered onto the back of a truck at a ceremony in the Danish capital.
The exact travel itinerary is being kept secret for security reasons, but the statue is scheduled to be placed as the centerpiece of the Danish pavilion about a week before the World Expo opens May 1.
The temporary move is controversial in Denmark, where some considered it disrespectful to ship a cultural treasure halfway across the globe as a PR tool.
Critics suggested the government should have sent a copy to China — an idea dismissed by Christopher Bo Bramsen, Danish commissioner-general for Expo 2010.
“Why send a copy when you can send the real thing?” he told The Associated Press.
Hundreds of people who had gathered for the event watched as a large crane hoisted the statue and slowly moved it over to the truck.
In Andersen’s tale, the mermaid is a sea king’s daughter who falls in love with a prince and must wait 300 years to become human. It was turned into a Disney film in 1989.