The family of the late George Michael have asked fans to remove tributes left outside the late singer’s homes in London and Oxfordshire, because the impromptu memorial sites have begun to divide local opinion almost 18 months on.

The singer passed away at the age of 53, after his body was discovered at his riverside home in Goring, Oxfordshire on Christmas Day 2016. His legions of fans flocked there, and to his other house in London’s well-to-do Highgate, to leave impromptu memorial gardens filled with flowers, poems, cards, pictures and candles.

A statement released on Michael’s official website on Wednesday (May 2nd), penned by the late star’s sisters, Mel and Yioda, his father Jack and friend David Austin, said that the family has been “touched by your many tributes celebrating and remembering” him.

George MichaelGeorge Michael performing in 2013

“However, we feel we cannot expect our Highgate and Goring neighbours to continue to accept as normality, the memorials so personal to you all, to remain as and where they are any longer,” the statement read.

It requested that Michael’s army of fans should remove their tributes by May 27th so that work can begin to “return both Mill Cottage and The Grove to their former simple state”.

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“This will take time to do properly, so we ask for your patience while trying to improve the grass and railings at The Grove,” the statement finished.

Annette McHail, a fan who lays flowers near the Oxfordshire property every week, agreed with the family’s statement, telling the BBC: “He was a private person and I can appreciate what the family are saying. It needs to go back to normal now.”

The fan-created memorial gardens have persisted in part because a permanent memorial to George Michael does not exist. Backed by his label Sony and the local council, fans had proposed a life-size bronze statue of him outside his Highgate property, but it was turned down by the family on the basis that George would consider such a move “embarrassing”.

However, they reassured fans in the latest statement that they were still working on a solution for a more modest permanent memorial that would leave all parties satisfied.

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