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Who Is Dodi Al Fayed? How He Met Princess Diana

Who was Mohamed al-Fayed? ... The Egyptian billionaire was a fixture of the London upper-class long before he ever met Princess Diana
Dodi Fayed - Producer

Princess Diana is the undeniable star of Season 5 of the The Crown. Played by Elizabeth Debicki, the people’s princess takes center stage in the latest season of the Netflix series as she divorces Charles and establishes a new life on her own terms. We follow her romance with Dr. Hasnat Khan (Humayun Saeed) and get hints of a future fling with Dodi Fayed (Khalid Abdalla), the man who eventually died alongside Diana and their driver Henri Paul in a tragic car crash on Aug. 31, 1997.

Fayed was born to a prominent family in Egypt

Fayed was born in Alexandria, Egypt, the child of Mohamed Fayed and Samira Khashoggi, per royal expert Sally Bedell Smith's reporting for Vanity Fair.

At the time, Mohamed Al Fayed — the son of a school teacher — was working for Samira Khashoggi's brother, Adnan Khashoggi, who would go on to become a billionaire arms dealer. This also made Fayed the first cousin of murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Fayed’s parents divorced in 1959. He lived with his father, who remarried Finnish socialite and model Heini Wathén, and had four children with her.

He went to a military academy in the U.K.

Fayed grew up between Egypt and France. At 19, he enrolled at the British army's Sandhurst Military Academy and served as an attaché at the London embassy of the United Arab Emirates.

Major Tim Coles, who lived next to Fayed at the Sandhurst Military Academy, told Smith for Vanity Fair he was "quiet, intelligent, pleasant, had a good sense of humor, was friendly, and appreciated help when anyone gave it."

Then, he worked as a movie producer, including for 'Chariots of Fire'

As "The Crown" shows, Fayed and his father executive produced the Oscar-winning movie "Chariots of Fire." He also produced "Breaking Glass," "F/X," "F/X 2," "Hook" and "The Scarlet Letter."

In his 1982 Oscars Best Picture acceptance speech, producer David Puttnam thanked the Fayeds, saying they "came through for us and put their money where my mouth is."

Who was Mohamed al-Fayed?

The Egyptian billionaire was a fixture of the London upper-class long before he ever met Princess Diana. His background is a bit of a mystery. He was born in Alexandria, but his birth date is disputed, according to the BBC. And while he once claimed to the press that he hailed from a long line of wealthy cotton growers, he later said his father was a teacher, according to The Independent.

In 1954, he married Samira Khashoggi, the sister of a Saudi Arabian arms dealer named Adnan Khashoggi. Before the couple divorced, they had one child together, Emad El-Din Mohamed Abdel Mena’em Fayed, otherwise known as Dodi. Dodi attended prestigious schools like Sandhurst military academy in the U.K. where Prince William and Prince Harry would eventually go to school.

Mohamed al-Fayed ran a shipping business, advised the Sultan of Brunei, and briefly worked for a mining conglomerate before moving to England in the 1970s.

How did Mohamad al-Fayed come to own the Ritz in Paris and Harrods in London?

In 1979, Mohamad bought the famous Ritz hotel in Paris, and in 1985, he added the iconic London department store Harrods to his holdings. That same year, he married Finnish model Heini Wathen. They had four children together.

The purchase of Harrods was just the first of many that al-Fayed hoped would help buy his way into British high society. The store stood for Britishness itself, and al-Fayed would continue to snap up buildings and institutions with similar symbolic heft. He later acquired Punch Magazine, the Fulham soccer team, and finally the Parisian villa that had once belonged to the former King Edward VIII and his wife, Wallis Simpson, after Edward abdicated the throne. No doubt al-Fayed hoped to catch the eye of the Queen by restoring her uncle’s home to its former glory.

If al-Fayed hoped these purchases would enchant the royals, he misjudged the Queen and her inner circle. The British upper-crust kept him at a distance, and he found himself more of an outsider than ever. The sale of Harrods, in particular, stirred up animosity in England. A competitor for the store claimed that al-Fayed lied about his income to seal the deal. Al-Fayed denied the claims but became embroiled in investigations and lawsuits. The scandal ensnared Prime Minister John Major’s government when al-Fayed paid two senior Conservative politicians to ask questions in Parliament on behalf of Harrod’s—a move that was not technically illegal, but definitely questionable.

There was, no doubt, some bigotry at play in the press’ assessment of al-Fayed as a desperate social climber who couldn’t quite grasp the elusive rules by which the upper class live. Al-Fayed applied to become a British citizen twice, and both times he was denied. Later in life, al-Fayed would call Prince Philip a “racist.”
Ari
Posted by Ari
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#Entertainment #Internet
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