A court battle has begun in London today between the ruler of Dubai and his estranged wife over the welfare of their children.
Princess Haya Bint al-Hussein left husband Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum, 70, in June and was reported to be ‘hiding in London in fear of her life’.
The princess, 45, fled with the pair’s two children last month, initially seeking asylum in Germany before going to her family’s £85million mansion in west London.
Today she was seen in public for the first time since arriving in the UK as she arrived at the court with her legal team, including specialist divorce lawyer Fiona Shackleton.
But the former couple confirmed in a joint statement they would be taking their case to a two-day hearing the family division of the High Court, starting today. The statement also confirmed the hearing would be related to their children and not their divorce or finances.
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 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
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
She 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.
Their divorce could be worth around £4.5billion making it one of the most costly in British legal history.
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.
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 Maktoum 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.
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.
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
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.
Maktoum has hired Helen Ward who represented former Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone in his divorce from his wife Slavica.