Mohamed Al Fayed: is he in The Crown, who is Dodi’s father, how did he know Diana, when did he sell Harrods?
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His family confirmed in a statement, that he had “passed away peacefully of old age” on Wednesday August 30, 2023. Almost 26 years to the day when his son Dodi and Princess Diana were killed in a car crash in Paris in 1997 after trying to escape press photographers.
The former Harrods owner was featured in season 5 of Netflix’s The Crown played by Amir El Masry (Limbo) and Salim Daw (Gaza Mon Amour). He is set to be a key character in The Crown season 6, which will focus on the death of Princess Diana.
So, who was Mohamed Al Fayed and how did he know Princess Diana? Here’s everything you need to know.
Who was Mohamed Al Fayed?
Mohamed Al Fayed was an Egyptian businessman who moved to London in the 1960s. His previous businesses include Harrods and Fulham Football Club and the Hotel Ritz Paris.
The 93-year-old, who passed away on 1 September had five children and was married to his first wife Samira Khashoggi, for two years from 1954 to 1956. He had been married to his second wife, Heini Wathén since 1985.
His death was confirmed in a statement by his family on 1 September. It reads: “Mrs Mohamed Al Fayed, her children and grandchildren wish to confirm that her beloved husband, their father and their grandfather, Mohamed, has passed away peacefully of old age on Wednesday August 30, 2023.” Adding: “He enjoyed a long and fulfilled retirement surrounded by his loved ones. The family have asked for their privacy to be respected at this time.”
His oldest son, the film director Dodi, was involved in a brief relationship with Princess Diana after Al Fayed had invited her to his yacht. The couple were both killed in a car crash in Paris after they had attempted to escape the press.
Al Fayed had stated in the past that the crash was the result of a conspiracy and claimed that Princess Diana may have been pregnant when she died. An inquest into the deaths of Diana and Dodi was held at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, in October 2007. The verdict was released six months later, ruling that the pair had been “unlawfully killed“ due to the grossly negligent driving of their chauffeur Henri Paul, who was intoxicated.
Is Mohamed Al Fayed in The Crown?
Al Fayed is first featured in The Crown season 5 episode 3, which explores his vast wealth and how he met Princess Diana. He later appears in episode 10. The role is played by two actors to represent the different timelines, with Amir El Masry (Limbo) portraying him in 1946 and the version from 1979 onwards played by Salim Daw (Gaza Mon Amour).
Will Mohamed Al Fayed be in The Crown season 6?
Mohamed Al Fayed will feature in The Crown season 6, where he will continue to be played by actor Salim Daw. It’s expected that the final season of the Netflix series will cover the relationship between Princess Diana and his son Dodi and their tragic death in Paris in 1997.
How did he know Princess Diana?
It’s believed that the pair met at one of Al Fayed’s many charity events. Reported by Vanity Fair in 1995, Michael Cole, then director of public affairs at Harrods said: “Diana is so easygoing with Mohamed. . . . Mohamed is not one of those who’s overwhelmed by her. They spark off each other very well.”
Al Fayed invited Diana, along with her sons Prince William and Prince Harry to join him on his yacht in the south of France. It was here that she met and grew close with his oldest son, Dodi, a film director who had produced the Oscar-winning movie Chariots of Fire in 1981. Photographs of the pair in an embrace were captured and shared by the press.
The two began dating but had a short-lived romance, with the pair being killed in a car accident in Paris on 31 August, 1997.
When did he sell Harrods?
Al Fayed announced he would be selling Harrods in 2010 to Qatar Holdings for £1.5 billion. The move came as a shock to many due to his personal connection to the department store. In 2005 he unveiled a bronze statue in memory of his son Dodi and Princess Diana depicting them dancing, engraved with the message “innocent victims”.
Speaking to the Evening Standard about his decision to sell the iconic store, he implied his decision was also influenced by pension fund trustees who stopped him taking a dividend.
At the time Al Fayed said: “How this can happen? I’ve owned the place for 26 years. I have 5,000 people to look after. We have a pension scheme which it is my duty to subsidise. Come every year, sometime £10 million, £20 million, £30 million I pay from the profits to be sure my pensioners have money to live.
“But it came just as a surprise that the Government put a body in called pension trustee. I’m here every day, I can’t take my profit because I have to take a permission of those bl**y idiots.”
He added: “Of course it makes me sad ... you can go ask everyone, people don’t want me to go. But first of all I can’t take this. I am 77 years old, right. I have children, I have grandchildren, you know ... I have done it. And time for me now to rest. And enjoy.”