A memorial to Chaplin in the city of his birth was proposed on 25 December 1977, soon after Chaplin's death, by Illtyd Harrington, the leader of the opposition in the Greater London Council. Initial plans for a memorial in the Elephant and Castle, in South London where Chaplin spent his early years, were dropped and instead Leicester Square, at the centre of London's entertainment district, became the preferred location for the work.
The bronze statue was first unveiled on 16 April 1981 (the 92nd anniversary of Chaplin's birth) at its original site, on the south-western corner of the square, by the actor Sir Ralph Richardson. An inscription on the plinth read THE COMIC GENIUS/ WHO GAVE PLEASURE/ TO SO MANY. The following year a slightly modified version was erected in the Swiss town of Vevey, which had been Chaplin's home from 1952 until his death. Following a refurbishment of Leicester Square in 1989–1992, the statue was moved to a site north of the statue of William Shakespeare, the square's centrepiece.
In a later refurbishment of 2010–2012 Chaplin's statue was removed altogether, together with busts of William Hogarth, John Hunter, Sir Isaac Newton and Sir Joshua Reynolds. The statue was installed in a nearby street, Leicester Place, in 2013. This was in order to prevent damage to the sculpture during improvement works. In 2016 it returned to Leicester Square and was re-unveiled on Chaplin's birthday.
The statue's second location in Leicester Square, in 2008, with the Swiss Centre behind
Media related to Statue of Charlie Chaplin, London at Wikimedia Commons