Princess Haya has arrived at the High Court today where she is battling her estranged husband – the billionaire ruler of Dubai – over custody of their children and to prevent one being forced into an arranged marriage.
The Jordan-born royal, 45, claims to have fled Dubai with their two children ‘in fear of her life’ after becoming estranged from Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
Today the estranged couple will battle at the High Court in London in a full family division hearing with the case expected to last until the end of the week – but the Sheik stayed away again.
It is being heard by the president of the Family Division, Sir Andrew McFarlane, and is not related to any financial matters or a divorce, which could be worth up to £4.5billion.
Sir Andrew has allowed the media to report that Princess Haya has applied for a non-molestation order – designed to help victims of domestic violence keep abusers away – and a forced marriage protection order in relation to the children.
These can be made to protect a person from being forced into a marriage and could, for example, prevent someone being taken abroad for a wedding. The issue of custody will also be decided in a ruling expected later this month.
There was no sign of her billionaire husband for the hearing before the President of the Family Division – the third time he has failed to attend a hearing that will determine the fate of his two children.
The case was adjourned at 3pm until tomorrow morning with any reporting of today’s hearing banned.
Princess Haya has arrived at the High Court with her star QC Fiona Shackleton and flanked by two bodyguards for the first day of the High Court battle with her estranged husband Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum – the billionaire ruler of Dubai
The Princess (pictured today) is also in the early stages of a divorce with her husband that could be worth £4.5billion – but today’s hearing is all about their children
Princess Haya is in Britain with the couple’s two children and is set for a bitter child custody battle with her 70-year-old billionaire racehorse owner husband (pictured together in June 2008 at Ascot before their relationship broke down)
The press is not allowed to report the names and ages of the children or most details of the proceedings being published until after the judgment in the coming weeks. Even witnesses due to attend cannot be identified.
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.
Princess Haya and Sheik 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.’
Sheik 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.
Sheik 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 bint Al Hussein, the estranged wife of Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (pictured together in 2017) is seeking a protection order in Britain
Family courts are set to argue what will happen to the couple’s children. The Princess with her husband in 2018 (left) and at an event in London (right)
The Princess (right) had previously met the Duchess of Cornwall (left) in Dubai in 2016 – she now lives in London full time
Princess Haya wed the 70-year-old sheik, 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.
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
Haya is the daughter of Jordan’s late Queen Alia, a popular figure with Palestinian roots who died in a helicopter crash in 1977.
Sheik 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 Sheik’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 sheik, 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 Sheik 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 sheik 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 Sheik – 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 Sheik 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 Sheik Mohammed has hired Helen Ward (pictured left) who represented Guy Ritchie when he was divorcing Madonna
Meanwhile Sheik 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.
Sheik 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.