Princess Haya – the estranged wife of the billionaire ruler of Dubai – has arrived at London’s High Court ahead of another day of hearings over the couple’s children.
However, it appears her estranged husband, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, has stayed away.
Princess Haya arrived with her lawyer the specialist divorce lawyer Baroness Shackleton, dubbed the ‘Steel Magnolia’ who handled Prince Charles’s split from Princess Diana and the Paul McCartney-Heather Mills divorce.
The two parties said in a statement in July that the case before the High Court in London, which is covered by strict reporting restrictions, did not concern divorce or finances but was limited to their children’s welfare.
The sheikh was not present yesterday and has previously stayed away from proceedings, attending a horse auction at the same time as hearing earlier this year.
Princess Haya, 45, who is the half-sister of King Abdullah II of Jordan and is Sheikh Mohammed’s sixth wife, reportedly fled Dubai earlier this year
The Princess was accompanied by leading solicitor Baroness Fiona Shackleton and a handful of security guards as she arrived at London’s High Court today
A preliminary hearing in July was told that Princess Haya has applied for a forced marriage protection order in relation to the children
Princess Haya bint Al Hussein, the estranged wife of Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (pictured together in 2017) is seeking a protection order in Britain
At an earlier hearing, Haya, the 45-year-old daughter of the late King Hussein of Jordan and half-sister to present King Abdullah, asked the court to protect one of her children from a forced marriage and to grant a non-molestation order, a type of injunction that protects against harassment or threats.
Sheikh Mohammed, 70, who is also Vice-President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, married the princess in 2004 in what was believed to be his sixth marriage. He has more than 20 children by different wives.
Princess Haya, who competed in equestrian jumping in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, was schooled in Britain and in the past often attended Britain’s Royal Ascot horse races with her estranged husband, one of the founders of the Godolphin horse racing stable.
Two of Britain’s most famous family lawyers are representing the two parties. Fiona Shackleton, who represented British heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles in his divorce from his late first wife Princess Diana, is representing Haya.
Sheikh Mohammed is represented by Helen Ward, who acted for British film director Guy Ritchie in his divorce from pop star Madonna.
His legal team also includes David Pannick, who has successfully represented anti-Brexit campaigners in two high-profile court victories over the government.
The case is being overseen by Andrew McFarlane, President of the Family Division of London’s High Court.
Princess Haya with her star QC Fiona Shackleton and flanked by two bodyguards yesterday
Princess Haya and Sheikh Mohammed – who married in 2004 – had issued a statement confirming they are parties to proceedings before the court following an earlier private hearing before Sir Andrew.
The statement said: ‘These proceedings are concerned with the welfare of the two children of their marriage and do not concern divorce or finances.’
Sheikh Mohammed, who turned 70 in July, is the vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates and ruler of Dubai.
He is also the founder of the successful Godolphin horse racing stable and received a trophy from the Queen after one of his horses won a race at Royal Ascot earlier this year.
Sheikh Mohammed has been represented at preliminary hearings by Lord Pannick QC, who acted for Gina Miller in the landmark Supreme Court case over the prorogation of Parliament, and Lady Helen Ward, a solicitor who represented director Guy Ritchie in his divorce from Madonna.
Her legal team includes Baroness Fiona Shackleton, who represented the Prince of Wales during his divorce from Diana, and Sir Paul McCartney in his divorce from Heather Mills.
Princess Haya wed the 70-year-old sheikh, who is also vice-president of the UAE, in 2004 in what was believed to be his sixth marriage. He has more than 20 children by different wives.
Haya is the daughter of Jordan’s late Queen Alia, a popular figure with Palestinian roots who died in a helicopter crash in 1977.
Jordan’s Prince Ali Al Hussein, 43, hugs his sister Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, 45, at her London home in a picture posted on Twitter
Sheikh Mohammed, one of the world’s richest men, has not attended court but has shared a number of poems on social media describing ‘overcoming life’s challenges’.
Haya smuggled their children out of Dubai earlier this year ‘in fear of her life’, according to the BBC’s well-connected security correspondent Frank Gardner.
She reportedly took £31million with her and sought refuge in her £85million townhouse near Kensington Palace.
The estranged couple are both friends of the Queen. Their estimated £4.5billion divorce could be the costliest in British legal history.
Haya, who is fighting for custody of her two children, successfully requested they be made wards of the British court, meaning no major decisions can be made about their future without a family judge’s permission.
A court order means further details of the case, including the ages and genders of the children, cannot be reported.
The hearing is listed to begin at noon.
The Princess recently moved into an £85million townhouse, pictured, which she bought from Indian billionaire Lakshmi Mittal in 2017
It was previously reported that Haya fled Dubai in May after what happened to her husband’s daughter Princess Latifa, 33.
Sources claimed this year that 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
One of his 23 children by different wives, Latifa left last year to make a new life in the US, but was intercepted by special forces and forced to return.
The BBC’s security correspondent said Haya fears she may be abducted herself and ‘rendered’ back to Dubai.
The sheikh, who is also the vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, has not made any public comment.
The divorce proceedings have not even started yet.
Former infantry soldier Russell Flowers is the man reported to have had ‘inappropriate contact’ with Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, sparking the £4.5bn divorce.
The close protection officer, who separated from his wife last year, today declined to comment on his friendship with the mother-of-two, who is believed to have fled the Arab Kingdom and hiding at the family’s £85million mansion near Kensington Palace.
Asked about the rumoured friendship lasting three years and suggestions that he will be named in divorce proceedings, he said over the summer: ‘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.
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
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
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.
The bodyguard has since gone into hiding after the sheikh 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.
The 70-year-old Sheikh – one of the world’s richest men – has made no official comment but published a poem that many believed was directed at his wife and talking about ‘treachery and betrayal’.
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 wife have brought in two of London’s most famous divorce lawyers as they prepare to go to war over his billions after the issues with their offspring are resolved.
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 and famous 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.
Sheikh Mohammed has been represented at preliminary hearings by Lord Pannick QC, who acted for Gina Miller in the landmark Supreme Court case over the prorogation of Parliament where Boris Johnson was defeated.