He Thought Diana, His Son Were Killed by the Royals

Egyptian businessman Mohamed Al Fayed, former owner of Harrods and father to Dodi, dies at 94
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 2, 2023 6:00 AM CDT
His Son Died With Diana. He Never Got Over It
Fulham owner Mohamed Al Fayed waves to the crowd before a match at Craven Cottage stadium in London on Nov. 15, 2008.   (AP Photo/Simon Dawson, File)

Mohamed Al Fayed, former owner of the famed Harrods department store in London whose son was killed in a car crash with Princess Diana, has died, his family said Friday. He was 94. Al Fayed, a self-made Egyptian businessman who also once owned the Fulham Football Club, was devastated by the death of son Dodi Fayed in the car crash in Paris with Princess Diana 26 years ago. He spent the rest of his life mourning the loss and fighting the British establishment he blamed for their deaths, per the AP. "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," his family said in a statement released by the Fulham club. "He enjoyed a long and fulfilled retirement surrounded by his loved ones."

Al Fayed was convinced that Dodi and Diana were killed in a conspiracy masterminded by Prince Philip, the husband of Queen Elizabeth II. He maintained the royal family arranged the accident because they didn't like Diana dating an Egyptian. Al Fayed claimed that Diana was pregnant and planning to marry Dodi, and that the royal family couldn't countenance the princess marrying a Muslim. In 2008, Al Fayed told an inquest the list of alleged conspirators included Philip, then-Prince Charles, former Prime Minister Tony Blair, Diana's sister Sarah McCorquodale, two former London police chiefs, and the CIA. The inquest concluded that Diana and Dodi died because of the reckless actions of their driver and paparazzi chasing the couple.

Born on Jan. 27, 1929, in Alexandria, Egypt, Al Fayed was the son of a school inspector who began his business career with interests in shipping. He moved to Britain in the 1960s to set about building an empire. He seemed to thrive in the limelight. Al Fayed hit the headlines in the 1980s as he battled with rival tycoon "Tiny" Rowland over control of the House of Fraser group, which included Harrods. Al Fayed and his brother bought a 30% stake in House of Fraser from Rowland in 1984 and took control of Harrods for 615 million pounds the following year. That transaction put him in conflict with British authorities. The Department of Trade and Industry investigation into the purchase found that the brothers had "dishonestly misrepresented their origins, their wealth, their business interests, and their resources.''

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Al Fayed was also a key player in the "cash for questions" scandal that roiled British politics in the 1990s. Al Fayed was sued for libel by a British lawmaker, Neil Hamilton, after the businessman claimed he'd given Hamilton envelopes of cash and a lavish stay at the Ritz in Paris in return for asking questions in the House of Commons. Hamilton's lawyer, Desmond Browne, claimed the allegation was fantasy, saying, "If there were Olympic medals for lying, Mr. Fayed would be a prime contender for a gold one." The jury found in Al Fayed's favor in December 1999. Al Fayed applied for British citizenship, but his application was rejected in both 1995 and 1998. The Sunday Times Rich List, which documents the fortunes of Britain's wealthiest people, put the family's fortune at $2.1 billion this year, making Al Fayed the 104th richest person in Britain.

(Read more Mohamed Al Fayed stories.)

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