IT is lawyers at dawn for Dubai’s filthy rich ruler and his runaway wife as they prepare to do battle in a British divorce court.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and estranged wife Princess Haya — who both count the Queen as a friend — have assembled the most expensive legal minds for what is predicted to be costliest split in UK history.
Sheikh Mohammed and Princess Haya are on course for a super divorce[/caption]
Usually the marriage intrigues of Middle Eastern royalty are kept well out of sight behind bolted palace doors — this royal couple’s dirty linen is being aired very publicly[/caption]
Usually the marriage intrigues of Middle Eastern royalty are kept well out of sight behind bolted palace doors.
But this royal couple’s dirty linen is being aired very publicly — sparked by the Sheikh’s love of sharing his own poetry on social media.
It was his verse — dripping with venom and charges of betrayal — on Instagram that appeared to confirm his wife’s flight from his Dubai court a year on from his daughter Princess Latifa’s apparent attempt at escape.
On a verified account attributed to him, he wrote: “You betrayed the most precious trust, and your game has been revealed.
“Your time of lying is over and it doesn’t matter what we were nor what you are.
“You no longer have a place with me. I don’t care if you live or die . . . Go to whom you get busy with.”
Sheikh Mohammed, 69, has previously written: “All my poems are a result of personal experience. I have never written any verse without it being a reality of my life.”
‘HIDING IN FEAR FOR HER LIFE’
The marital rift was evident when horseracing-mad Mohammed — owner of the all-conquering Godolphin stable, whose horses have won more than 5,000 races worldwide — arrived without his wife at last month’s Royal Ascot.
Glamorous Princess Haya, 45, the daughter of King Hussein of Jordan, also has a passion for horses.
She represented Jordan in showjumping at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney and was her country’s flag bearer.
The Sheikh, who is also the vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, met the Queen and Prince William at Ascot.
THE TOP LAWYERS
BOTH sides have appointed the cream of the legal profession for the divorce battle.
The Sheikh has hired Helen Ward, who handled Guy Ritchie’s split from Madonna and Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone’s divorce from second wife Slavica.
Princess Haya has retained the services of Baroness Shackleton of Belgravia – nicknamed the Steel Magnolia because of her charm and determination.
Her clients have included Prince Charles in his divorce from Princess Diana and Prince Andrew in his split from the Duchess of York.
Baroness Shackleton famously had a glass of water thrown over her by Heather Mills during divorce proceedings with husband Sir Paul McCartney in 2008.
The baroness, who represented the Beatle, ensured Mills received only £24million of the £125million she had wanted.
But Princess Haya — a racehorse owner herself and usually by his side on the track — was nowhere to be seen.
In May, however, Princess Haya did reportedly meet the Queen for a private tea at Windsor Castle during the annual Royal Windsor Horse Show.
With both the Sheikh and Princess coming from key Middle Eastern dynasties, the Queen will have to use her diplomatic skills to remain on good terms with both.
Half-British Haya, who was educated at Oxford University, is now said to be in hiding in London “in fear for her life”.
The most visible of the Sheikh’s reported six wives, she allegedly has with her 11-year-old daughter, seven-year-old son — and £31million. She is believed to be holed up in a gated mansion with bulletproof glass on Britain’s most expensive street, in Kensington, West London.
When reporters asked via the intercom for an interview at the £85million property, a man emerged to say there would be no comments made on her behalf. But a family source said she is seeking political asylum in Britain.
Friends of the princess have claimed that she fled Dubai after discovering “disturbing facts” about her step-daughter Princess Latifa.
The 33-year-old was seized on a yacht off the coast of India last year while allegedly attempting to escape her strict family life.
But Princess Haya was told by her husband that Latifa had not chosen to flee and that she was actually the victim of an extortion plot.
He claimed bringing her back to Dubai was rescuing her.
It appears that Princess Haya no longer believes that version of events.
A family source said: “She finally learned the truth about what happened to her husband’s daughter and feared the same could happen to her.
THE BIG MONEY
Here's where some of the pair's money can be found…
Estimated at £9billion
Zabeel Palace, Dubai
63,000 acres of land in UK
£85million townhouse in Kensington, West London
Longcross, £75million estate in Surrey
Inverinate, 30-bed estate, Wester Ross, Highlands. Includes triple helipad.
Godolphin, Britain’s biggest stable
Darley Stud, Newmarket, Suffolk, one of the world’s biggest producers of champion horses
Ballysheehan Stud, County Tipperary, Ireland
Gainsborough Farm, Kentucky, US
532ft yacht, Dubai, with 68 cabins, pictured, two Boeing 747s as private jets, more than 100 cars
Dubai World Transport, logistics, maritime, urban development, real estate, finance
Dubai Holding IT, real estate, hospitality, media, design, industrials
Behind launch of airline Emirates
Jumeirah hotel chain, including Grosvenor House Suites overlooking London’s Hyde Park and sail-shaped Burj Al Arab, Dubai
“She went along with what was said after Latifa escaped last year but found out for herself what she had endured.”
Latifa is the second of the Sheikh’s daughters who seems to have tried to run away.
In 2000, Sheikha Shamsa, then 19, is said to have made a bolt for it from the family’s £75million Longcross estate in Surrey and scarpered across the nearby Chobham Common.
Friends allege she was then kidnapped from a street in Cambridge by members of Sheikh Mohammed’s staff and returned to Dubai against her will.
She has not been seen in public since.
In a video sent to human rights organisation Detained in Dubai, Latifa claimed Shamsa was being kept in a drugged “zombie” state in the Zabeel Palace in Dubai — before saying that she, too, had made another earlier attemp to “escape” her father.
‘DAUGHTER KEPT LIKE DRUGGED ZOMBIE’
It was Princess Haya’s fears for her own two children that triggered her decision to get out of Dubai, according to a family source.
The move came after Princess Haya invited former Irish president Mary Robinson to Dubai in December last year.
Mrs Robinson, a former UN high commissioner for human rights, was pictured with Latifa, who she described as “vulnerable” and “troubled”, adding that she “clearly needs the medical care she is receiving”.
Her comments drew criticism from human rights campaigners, with one saying she had been “used as a willing pawn in the PR battle between the UAE ruling family and the rest of the world”. After the visit, Princess Haya is said to have begun asking “awkward” questions about Princess Latifa.
MOST READ IN NEWS
A family friend said: “The Princess is an intelligent woman and would have realised that her husband’s people were covering up the truth of what happened.”
Princess Haya is believed to have begun planning her departure at the beginning of the year.
In early May she fled to Germany first, before arriving in the UK.
And it is in the UK that the latest chapter in the explosive family saga is now set to play out through the courts.
The Princes poem to Princess Haya included: You betrayed the most precious trust and your game has been revealed[/caption]
The pair’s split could be the most costly in British history[/caption]
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