First Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum was ordered to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to his ex, in what was said to be the largest divorce settlement the UK has ever seen. Now, another victory for Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, the half sister of King Abdullah II of Jordan: She's been granted sole custody of the couple's two children, Jalila, 14, and Zayed, 10. Reuters describes Thursday's ruling by a senior British family judge as an "extraordinary, bitter, and hugely expensive three-year custody battle" in London, culminating with Andrew McFarlane accusing Mohammed of "consistently [displaying] coercive and controlling behavior" and "exorbitant" abuse against his wife.
Although he acknowledged that Mohammed does love his children, and they him, McFarlane noted that his behavior toward his ex and refusal to take responsibility for his actions overshadowed all of that. The "behaviour towards the mother ... whether by threats, poems, coordinating press reports, covertly arranging to purchase property immediately overlooking hers, phone-hacking, or in the conduct of this litigation, has been abusive to a high, indeed exorbitant, degree," McFarlane wrote in his ruling. The judge also prohibited Mohammed to have direct contact with the children. He may only correspond with them via telephone and messages.
Mohammed continues to deny the allegations against him, per a statement issued on his behalf, reports the Guardian. "He loves his children and cherishes their love for him," the statement reads. "He has always cared and provided for them, and always will." Princess Haya, meanwhile, seemed a little happier with the judge's decision. "It is my sincere hope that the judgments published today conclude these legal proceedings," she wrote in a statement posted Thursday on her website, which also included thanks to a long list of those who'd helped her, including the Jordanian king. "There are no words, no words at all, to describe the love, respect, admiration, and pride I have for the two bravest souls of all, Jalila and Zayed," she added. "They have met every hardship and challenge with dignity, faith, and a renewed resolve to be kinder and more humble people." (Read more Dubai stories.)