Not very many people know that it was actually set up by Queen Elizabeth I during a period of her reign known as the Sassy Decade by historians who documented her years. Queen Elizabeth I (QEI) was famous in Elizabethan England for being, well, the Queen, but also for being a huge fan of dressing up in fancy pants and painting her face whiter than a fresh sheet of the old A4.
Being the Queen, she struggled a lot to go shopping - portrait artists for Ye Olde Heat Scroll were always out and about in the markets she tried to frequent. They would scribble nonsense rubbish about her and the men who were oft by her side for protection. She soon grew tired of it, because her management had made it very clear that if the gloss were to come off her "Virgin Queen" routine then she would be finished and would have no chance of cracking America. The Americans are very pious, see.
So, QEI decided to set up an emporium where she could shop in peace. Also, she was an enormous fan of escalators and had some big ideas for designing the fanciest escalators you could ever lay foot on. There were blue prints for all kinds of escalators... now, obviously in those days there was no electricity. QEI had to employ (we say employ... there are no pay records to prove it was consensual work) thousands of Spaniards to run beneath the escalators and keep them moving. In the director's cut off the film Labyrinth, they reveal that the idea for the final stairs scene was actually inspired by QEI and her dangerous obsession with tricky stair designs.
In the early days, there was no such thing as the Toy Room or the Designer Wear section - it was simply:
Things To Make Lizzy Smell Good (Rough translation from Olde English)
Things To Make Lizzy Look Good
Things To Make Lizzy Cook Good
Things To Make Lizzy Make Other People Jealous
After QEI passed away the shop space was handed down to her faithful court Jester - Jonathon Al Fayed - and it stayed in his family for generations until it became the gilded money hoarder haven that we know today. That's a lot of information to obtain on a Wednesday, I can only hope I've done it justice.