Sheikh Mohammed and Princess Haya’s historic divorce proceedings are underway

The High Court recently found that Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum ordered the hacking of the phones of his ex-wife and her lawyers, amid their acrimonious split

Hope Coke, Tatler
October 28, 2021

Earlier this month, news broke that Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Prime Minister and Vice President of the UAE, ordered the use of spyware to tap the phones of his ex-wife, Princess Haya bint Hussein of Jordan, and her lawyers, according to the findings of London’s High Court. Now, legal proceedings relating to their divorce are officially underway, as the 47-year-old princess seeks a settlement following the breakdown of their marriage.

The legal action, which the Times dubs the ‘biggest divorce case in British legal history’, officially began on Wednesday 27 October. It will see Princess Haya (the daughter of former King Hussein of Jordan and his third wife, Queen Alia, and the half-sister of the current King Abdullah II), push for a share of the 72-year-old ruler of Dubai’s fortune.

Over the course of a 10-day hearing, High Court judge the Hon Mr Justice Moor will determine a pay-out for the princess and the former couple’s two young children, with whom Haya fled to London in 2019. The youngest of the Sheikh’s six wives, she reportedly left for the UK after her husband grew suspicious over her closeness with her British bodyguard.

The Times adds that although the hearing took place with journalists present, experts have hypothesized that the settlement could break the current record of a £450 million award, secured by the former wife of the billionaire Russian businessman Farkhad Akhmedov, Tatiana Akhmedova, in 2017. After a lengthy back and forth, however, Akhmedova ultimately accepted a ‘cash and art settlement’ worth around £150 million in July of this year, according to the Evening Standard.

Haya is being represented by leading divorce lawyer, Tory peer Baroness Shackleton of Belgravia, who has been called upon by a host of high profile clients – including Sir Paul McCartney, Prince Charles and Liam Gallagher. As well as the princess herself and another of her lawyers, Nicholas Manners, Baroness Shackleton is also believed to have had her phone tapped with spyware under the orders of Sheikh Mohammed, according to the ruling of Andrew McFarlane, the UK’s most senior family court judges, on 6 October. The Sheikh denied any knowledge of the hacking.

Sheikh Mohammed has previously attempted to have the case kept out of the media, but lost a legal battle after a number of publications argued that they should be able to report on it. In the wake of the phone hacking reports earlier this month, it was also rumoured that the Queen will no longer invite the Sheikh – an ardent racing enthusiast and founder of the prestigious Godolphin stables – to the Ascot Royal Box.