Dubai Royals in dispute over kids
The imminent royal courtroom battle between Princess Haya of Jordan and her estranged husband, Sheikh Mohammed of Dubai, is a dispute over their children’s welfare, it has been revealed. In a highly unusual move, following extensive international publicity, the couple issued a statement through the high court, confirming the legal issues involved ahead of the case.
The two-day hearing, due to take place in London on 30 and 31 July in the family division of the court relates to the couple’s two children. It added that the case management hearing will deal with issues relating to how to proceed to a final hearing to determine the welfare issues. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, 70, is vice-president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates and also ruler of Dubai.
The sheikh is also founder of the successful Godolphin horse racing stable, and last month received a trophy from the Queen after one of his horses won a race at Royal Ascot. Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, 45, is the daughter of the former King Hussein of Jordan and half-sister of King Abdullah II of Jordan. She is Sheikh Mohammed’s sixth wife and reportedly fled Dubai earlier this year.
The princess is close to the British royal family and owns an £85m house near Kensington Palace in central London. She married the billionaire Sheikh Mohammed in 2004. Educated at private schools in the UK and the University of Oxford, where she studied philosophy, politics and economics, she has served on the International Olympic Committee and has been a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations World Food Programme.
Both parties and the media have been asked whether they are seeking to impose or challenge any reporting restrictions on the hearings. The default position is that children involved in family court proceedings cannot be named. Princess Haya is understood to be represented by Fiona Shackleton, who represented Prince Charles during his divorce from Princess Diana.
Shackleton’s firm, Payne Hicks Beach, declined to comment. The sheikh is represented by Helen Ward of Stewarts Law, who has previously represented Andrew Lloyd Webber, Paloma Picasso, Guy Ritchie and Bernie Ecclestone.