The letter was written in blue ink in the neatly spaced script of a schoolgirl. It bore a London address and was dated September 16, 1999. “I was thinking of running away,” it read. “I know that won’t solve any of my problems — that’s why I considered talking to my mother again. But now I’ve realised that I’m still not fulfilled!”
These were not just any teenage musings. The letter was written by Sheikha Shamsa Al Maktoum, the daughter of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the billionaire ruler of Dubai and a friend of the Queen. It was addressed to Shamsa’s cousin, a young mother living in London who at the time went by the name Fatima Essabri. It described a desperate yearning to escape from her stifling yet luxurious existence in Dubai.
“Don’t worry, you’re not giving me ideas and you’re not encouraging me to do anything,” wrote the 18-year-old Shamsa.