Mohamed Al-Fayed, the father of Princess of Diana’s partnery Dodi, has died. He was 94.
Al-Fayed was well known as the owner of London’s famed Harrods department store. His son, Dodi, had just begun a relationship with Princess Diana shortly before they were both killed in the infamous 1997 car crash in Paris.
Al-Fayed was born in Egypt in 1929, the eldest son of an elementary school teacher. He got his start in business when he and his brothers founded a shipping company in Egypt before moving its headquarters to Genoa, Italy, with offices in London. He made investments in the fields of oil refining and mining before meeting the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, in the mid-1960s, who tasked him with helping transform Dubai.
In 1979, Mohamed bought The Ritz hotel in Paris, France, for $30 million, and in 1985, he and his brothers acquired the department store group House of Fraser, which included famous London department store Harrods. He was also the owner of the Fulham Football Club from 1997 to 2013, owns Balnagown Castle & Estates in Scotland and took over the lease of the Villa Windsor in Paris, the former home of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, the former King Edward VIII and his wife, Wallis Simpson.
Dodi was Al-Fayed’s first son, whom he shared with his first wife, Saudi Arabian author Samira Khashoggi (the aunt of slain political journalist Jamal Khashoggi).
Following his and Khashoggi’s divorce, Al-Fayed later married Finnish socialite and former model Heini Wathén, with whom he had four more children: Jasmine, Karim, Camilla, and Omar.
Dodi met Princess Diana through his work with his father at Harrods, where Diana was a frequent shopper. Following her split from Hasnat Khan in the summer of 1997, Dodi invited Diana and her sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, to vacation with his family in the south of France. The pair was photographed together on his family’s yacht, leaving to a media frenzy over the couple’s relationship, which lasted a mere 30 days.
The yacht recently made more headlines when it sank in the Mediterranean Sea last month.
In the early hours of Aug. 31, 1997, Diana and Dodi were killed in a car crash in the Pont de l’Alma underpass in Paris. They had stopped in Paris on their way back to London, after having spent nine days together on holiday in the French and Italian Rivieras aboard his family’s yacht. Neither Dodi nor Diana was wearing a seat belt, and Dodi was pronounced dead at the scene.
Investigations by French and British police concluded that the couple’s chauffeur, Henri Paul, was driving under the influence of alcohol and prescription drugs. Paparazzi swarming and chasing the couple throughout the Paris streets were also believed to have contributed to the accident.
However, following the death of his son and Diana, Mohamed had been publicly outspoken about conspiracy theories surrounding their deaths, making over 100 conspiracy claims during Operation Paget, a Metropolitan police inquiry that concluded in 2006, finding no evidence of a conspiracy.
Mohamed also financially supported a 2011 documentary, Unlawful Killing, that presented his version of events. The film was never formally released due to the potential for libel suits.
Both Dodi and his father appeared as characters on season 5 of The Crown, which premiered last year: Salim Daw played Mohamed and Khalid Abdalla portrayed Dodi. They are both expected to appear again on the show’s next season, during which the car crash is expected to take place.