Billionaire ruler of Dubai and estranged wife begin UK court battle

Princess Haya Bint al-Hussein has sought an order to protect both her and her two children as she begins a divorce battle in London, after fleeing to the UK and hiding out in her £85 million home. 

The princess, 45, left Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, 70, in June and was reported to be ‘hiding in London in fear for her life’ following news of their divorce being announced.

She fled with the pair’s two children and initially sought asylum in Germany before going to her family’s £85million mansion in west London, where she has been ever since. 

At the High Court in London, Princess Haya applied for wardship of the couple’s children alongside a forced marriage protection order to prevent them from being taken abroad. 

The court also heard that Sheikh Mohammed has applied to the High Court for the summary return of the children to Dubai.    

She was accompanied at the court today by her legal team, including specialist divorce lawyer Fiona Shackleton, who handled Prince Charles’ split with Princess Diana. Experts say the couple could fight over £4.5billion which would make it among the costliest divorces in British legal history.  

It comes after it was alleged the break-up followed ‘inappropriate contact’ between Princess Haya and her British bodyguard Russell Flowers.

Princess Haya Bint al-Hussein, pictured at the High Court today, has applied for wardship of her children and a forced marriage protection order to prevent them from being taken abroad by her husband and ruler of Dubai 

The Princess, pictured with lawyer Fiona Shackleton leaving court, is in the early stages of a divorce with her husband that could be worth £4.5billion

Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum and estranged wife Princess Haya Bint al-Hussein, pictured together at Royal Ascot in 2013, have begun a High Court battle in the UK over their children ahead of their divorce

Princess Haya, right, fled Dubai in June with her two children by the Sheikh and legal experts predict they could battle for £4.5billion in a divorce, although today’s court hearing relates only to their children’s welfare

A forced marriage protection order can be made to protect a person from being forced into a marriage or from any attempt to be forced into a marriage and could, for example, prevent someone being taken abroad.

She has also applied for a non-molestation order relating to herself. 

Sir Andrew rejected an application by Sheikh Mohammed’s lawyers for those details to be subject to reporting restrictions.

Earlier, reporters who were not accredited in the UK or whose publications were based outside of England and Wales were prevented from attending the hearing.

Following her disappearance, an angry poem allegedly written by the Sheikh was published on his official Instagram page accusing an unnamed woman of ‘treachery and betrayal’. 

Princess Haya is the daughter of the former King Hussein of Jordan and half-sister of King Abdullah II of Jordan.

The princess graduated from Oxford University and is a former Olympic equestrian, representing Jordan at the 2000 games in Sydney. 

She became the Sheikh’s sixth wife in 2004 and the pair share a love of horses. The billionaire Sheikh founded the Godolphin horse racing stables and is often seen at Royal Ascot with The Queen. 

It is understood Princess Haya wishes to stay in the UK but if the Sheikh demands her return it could spark a diplomatic incident due to Britain’s close ties with the UAE.

She bought the Kensington mansion in 2017 from Indian billionaire Lakshmi Mittal.

Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, right, pictured with her legal team including lawyer Fiona Shackleton, centre, has arrived at the High Court in London today for a hearing over her children 

The Princess recently moved into an £85million townhouse, pictured, which she bought from Indian billionaire Lakshmi Mittal in 2017

A poem alleged to have been written by Sheikh Mohammed and talking about ‘betrayal’ was posted on an Instagram account linked to the Dubai ruler

The princess allegedly fled Dubai because she ‘learned disturbing facts’ about the disappearance of one of her husband’s daughters, Princess Latifa.

Latifa, 33, was captured by commandos as she tried to flee to the US to begin a new life having claimed she had previously been imprisoned and tortured when she attempted to escape from Dubai as a teenager.

How physical threats and emotional blackmail are used to force people to marry 

Forced marriage is defined as when a person faces physical or emotional and psychological pressure to marry someone.

This can range from threats of violence to being told you are ‘shaming your family’ by opposing a union.

It was made a specific offence in England and Wales in 2014 and the law extends to prohibit victims being taken abroad to marry. 

Those who lack the mental capacity to agree to marriage are also protected.

If authorities believe a person may be at risk of forced marriage they can issue protection orders that carry a maximum sentence of five years if violated.

An offender who forces someone to marry against their will can be jailed for up to seven years. 

Forced marriage protection orders contain legally binding conditions that govern a person’s behaviour to stop them forcing someone into marriage.

They can be granted in an emergency to give immediate protection, which prohibits that person being involved in a wedding. 

After being forcibly returned to Dubai she was not seen for nine months until Princess Haya arranged for her friend Mary Robinson, the former Irish PM, to meet with Latifa.

The staged meeting was condemned by human right groups who said Robinson had accepted the Dubai ruler’s version of events that she was the victim of an extortion plot rather than being held against her will.

Campaigners say she is drugged and held as a prisoner in her own home.

Princess Haya is said to have decided to flee when she learned the truth about Latifa and feared the same could happen to her if she remained in Dubai.

She has hired Fiona Shackleton to represent her in the proceedings – one of the UK’s top divorce lawyers who represented Prince Charles during his divorce from Princess Diana.

Sheikh Mohammed has hired Helen Ward who represented former Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone in his divorce from his wife Slavica.

The hiring of two of London’s most reputable lawyers indicates the capital is the likely venue for is likely to be one an obscenely expensive and fiercely contested divorce and custody battles in the capital’s history. 

Baroness Shackleton is known as the ‘Steel Magnolia’, for her charm and determination, after securing the Prince of Wales a divorce settlement in 1996. 

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum is pictured here receiving a trophy from The Queen after one of his horses won the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot in June 22, with his wife noticeably absent after previously frequenting the event with him

Sources claim Princess Haya fled after learning ‘disturbing facts’ about the Sheikh’s treatment of his daughter Latifa, 33, pictured, who campaigners say is being ‘held prisoner’ in Dubai after a failed escape attempt

She also represented Sir Paul McCartney in his divorce, and famously had a glass of water thrown over her by Heather Mills.

Baroness Shackleton became a life peer sitting on the Tory benches in 2010 and remains the personal solicitor of Princes William and Harry. 

Lady Ward, who works for Stewart’s Law of London, is known for her sharp intelligence and work ethic, previously claiming she worked 17 or 18 hour days ‘if I have to.’

Meanwhile, it was previously alleged that Princess Haya had ‘inappropriate contact’ with bodyguard Russell Flowers.

The former infantry soldier turned close protection officer, who separated from his wife last year, subsequently declined to comment on his friendship with the mother-of-two.

Former infantry soldier Russell Flowers (pictured) is the bodyguard reported to have had ‘inappropriate contact’ with the wife of Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed, sparking their divorce

Flowers, a close protection officer (pictured at Ascot last year with Princess Haya and Sheikh Mohammed) worked for the Princess for five years where the pair struck up a close friendship 

Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein pictured above leaving the High Court in London with her lawyer today

Asked about the rumoured friendship lasting three years and suggestions that he will be named in divorce proceedings, he said: ‘I have got nothing to say on the matter.’

Mr Flowers, 36, is said to have become too close to the royal during his five-year posting as her close protection officer based at the family’s Dalham Hall Stud in Newmarket and accompanied her around the world.

The friendship is believed to be the reason the Princess has fled the Arab kingdom and is now in hiding in London and awaiting a divorce hearing.

Last year Flowers, for five years a soldier with Princess of Wales Royal Regiment, was pictured with her during the Dubai royal family’s annual visit to Royal Ascot holding her seven-year-old son.

The bodyguard has since gone into hiding after Sheikh Mohammed is said to have been troubled by his apparent closeness to his wife.

Senior members of the royal court in Dubai had expressed their concern over the friendship and brought it to the attention of her billionaire racehorse owner husband.

One source close to the family said the Princess insisted that Mr Flowers accompanied her on every foreign trip.

She is said to have lavished him with gifts and bought him a Range Rover as well as other presents including a £50,000 custom made hunting rifle, Saville Row suits and a watch. The top of the range car is said to have a personalised number plate.

The princess would spend time with the former Infantry soldier at the couples’ stunning 3,000-acre Suffolk home Dalham Hall (above). Mr Flowers lived in his marital home nearby in Newmarket before he separated from his wife last year

Following the break-up of his marriage to his wife, the Princess is also said to have bought a farmhouse to accommodate him in a village near Newmarket, Suffolk, where he was based. 

Sources told MailOnline the friendship between Flowers and the Princess was an open secret among the mostly ex-military men who formed the protection team for her and her children.

Before becoming the crown princesses bodyguard Flowers had worked for a private security firm

After leaving Mayfield College in East Sussex he joined the army and served for almost six years in the 2nd Battalion of The Princess of Wales Regiment from 2003 to 2009.

According to his LinkedIn page he was a Maritime Security Office for two years serving on oil tankers at risk from hijacking by pirates off the Somalia coast.

In 2012 he joined the Knight Security Group and two years later joined UK Mission Enterprise Ltd.

The Dubai Government owns the Belgravia based security and concierge firm which provides round the clock protection as well as domestic help for the Dubai Royal family at their UK residences.

Battle of the big-money briefs: Ruler of Dubai and his on-the-run wife bring in two of London’s most famous divorce lawyers as they prepare to go war over his billions

By Joe Middleton for MailOnline 

The ruler of Dubai and his on-the-run wife have brought in two of London‘s most famous divorce lawyers as they prepare to go to war over his billions.

Oxford educated Princess Haya Al Hussein fled the country with her children after the break up of her marriage with billionaire Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum.

Princess Haya hired Baroness Shackleton, who has represented Prince Charles and Sir Paul McCartney.

Princess Haya is thought to be living in London at an £85 million mansion near Kensington Palace, and has hired Baroness Shackleton (pictured right), who has represented Prince Charles and Sir Paul McCartney. Meanwhile Sheikh Mohammed has hired Helen Ward (pictured left) who represented Guy Ritchie when he was divorcing Madonna

Meanwhile Sheikh Mohammed has employed Helen Ward who represented Guy Ritchie when he was divorcing Madonna

The hiring of two of London’s most reputable lawyers indicates the capital is the likely venue for is likely to be one an obscenely expensive and fiercely contested divorce and custody battles in the capital’s history. 

Baroness Shackleton is known as the ‘Steel Magnolia’, for her charm and determination, after securing the Prince of Wales a divorce settlement in 1996. 

She also represented Sir Paul McCartney in his divorce, and famously had a glass of water thrown over her by Heather Mills.

Baroness Shackleton became a life peer sitting on the Tory benches in 2010 and remains the personal solicitor of Princes William and Harry.

Meanwhile Lady Ward, who works for Stewart’s Law of London, is known for her sharp intelligence and work ethic, previously claiming she worked 17 or 18 hour days ‘if I have to.’

Lady Ward was also represented Bernie Ecclestone in his £2bn divorce battle with ex-wife Slavica, at the High Court in 2009. 

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