Mohamed al-Fayed, whose son died in crash with Princess Diana, dies at 94
Mohamed al-Fayed, the flamboyant Egypt-born billionaire businessman whose son was killed in a car crash with the United Kingdom’s Princess Diana, has died aged 94, his family said in a statement.
Al-Fayed, the former owner of Harrods department store in London and previous owner of the Fulham Football Club, was devastated by the death of son Dodi Fayed in the car crash in Paris with Diana in 1997.
He spent years mourning the loss and fighting the UK establishment he blamed for their deaths.
“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 Football Club on Friday.
“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,” the family said.
Al-Fayed was convinced 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 did not like Diana dating an Egyptian. Al-Fayed claimed that Diana was pregnant and planning to marry Dodi and that the royal family could not countenance the princess marrying a Muslim.
In 2008, al-Fayed told an inquest the list of alleged conspirators included Philip, two former London police chiefs and the CIA.
The inquest concluded that Diana and Dodi died because of the reckless actions of their driver – an employee of the Ritz hotel owned by al-Fayed – and paparazzi chasing the couple. Separate inquiries in the UK and France also concluded there was no conspiracy.
The son of a school inspector, al-Fayed was born on January 27, 1929, in Alexandria, Egypt. After early investments in shipping in Italy and the Middle East, he moved to the United Kingdom in the 1960s and started building an empire.
The Sunday Times Rich List, which documents the fortunes of the UK’s wealthiest people, put the family’s fortune at 1.7 billion pounds ($2.1bn) this year, ranking al-Fayed as the 104th richest person in the country.Al-Fayed first hit the headlines in the 1980s when he battled with rival tycoon “Tiny” Rowland for control of the House of Fraser group, which included Harrods in London’s Knightsbridge neighbourhood.
Al-Fayed was also a key player in the “cash for questions” scandal that roiled UK politics in the 1990s.
Al-Fayed was sued for libel by Member of Parliament Neil Hamilton, after the businessman claimed he had 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.”
A jury found in al-Fayed’s favour in December 1999.
But he was never accepted by the UK establishment. The government twice rejected his applications for citizenship, though the reasons were never released publicly.
SOURCE: THE ASSOCIATED PRESS