Sheikh Mohammed and Princess Haya say court case concerns their children

London high court to consider welfare of children, not divorce, statement says

Owen Bowcott
July 18, 2019, The Guardian

Queen Elizabeth greets the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed, and his wife Princess Haya in the royal box at Royal Ascot horse race meeting in 2016. (Photograph: Alastair Grant/AP)

The imminent 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 on Thursday through the high court confirming the legal issues involved in the case.

A two-day hearing due to take place on 30 and 31 July in the family division of the court relates to the couple’s two children.

The statement, issued after a private hearing before Sir Andrew McFarlane, the president of the family division, said: “These proceedings are concerned with the welfare of the two children of their marriage and do not concern divorce or finances.”

It said the case management hearing would “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 the ruler of Dubai. The billionaire sheikh is also the 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 this year.

The princess is close to the British royal family and owns an £85m house near Kensington Palace in central London. She married 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 QC, of Stewarts Law, who has previously represented Andrew Lloyd Webber, Paloma Picasso, Guy Ritchie and Bernie Ecclestone.