Mohamed Al-Fayed trained son Dodi ‘like a dog on a chain’ as The Crown shows him masterminding Princess Diana romance | The Sun

CHARMING gentleman Dodi Al-Fayed had all the makings of a British aristocrat – or so his father wanted to believe.

Desperate to be accepted into the upper echelons of British society, Harrods tycoon Mohamed Al-Fayed kept a careful watch over his son's life, masterfully positioning the family until they were rubbing shoulders with the most famous woman in the world.

In the first part of season six of The Crown, which dropped on Netflix today, Dodi's famous romance with Princess Diana is depicted as being 'engineered' by his overbearing dad.

Episode one sees Mohamed (Salim Daw) pressuring the millionaire playboy (Khalid Abdalla) to throw away his impending marriage to model Kelly Fisher and to instead pursue the people's princess.

Offering half his empire in return for marrying into the monarchy, he says: "This is your chance to finally make me proud of you."

In real-life, the father and son's relationship was certainly complex, with one film producer close to Dodi comparing it to "when you are training a dog and you use a choke chain".

"You give a little freedom, then you need to give a pull. Dodi was encouraged to fly and then not allowed to," they told Vanity Fair.

Diana is believed to have first met Mohamed and Dodi alongside her husband, the then Prince Charles, at a polo match in 1986.

Harrods tycoon Al-Fayed had started sponsoring charities and events that were attended by the Royal Family, and would build up a close relationship with the princess over the following decade.

Michael Cole, then director of public affairs at Harrods, said: "Diana is so easy going with Mohamed… Mohamed is not one of those who's overwhelmed by her. They spark off each other very well."

Most read in Royals


Diana was ‘consumed by death’ after shock murder of A-list pal in final days


Meghan’s red carpet appearance was to ‘silence rumours’ about Hollywood


Raciest royal scandals – ‘stripper parties, 5,000 lovers & boob job gifts’


Harry & Meg ‘would love to’ spend Xmas in UK but ‘Charles hasn’t invited them’

'Engineered' romance

Diana seen with Mohamed during a holiday in St Tropez, France, in 1997Credit: Getty
Elizabeth Debicki plays Princess Dianna in The CrownCredit: NETFLIX
Season six depicts the moment sparks began flying between Diana and DodiCredit: NETFLIX

In the summer of 1997, Mohamed invited Diana – by now divorced from Charles – to join his family in the south of France on their yacht, the Jonikal, with her two children, Prince William and Prince Harry,

That is believed to be Diana and Dodi's first real meeting.

The former royal had just come out of a relationship with heart surgeon Hasnat Khan. Three days into the trip, Mohamed reportedly summoned Dodi – despite him being engaged to Kelly Fisher.

The spurned fiancée later claimed Dodi had dumped her for Diana and tried suing him for $500,000, claiming she had sacrificed her modelling career to marry him.

In 1997, Diana biographer Dally Bedell Smith told Vanity Fair: "Mohamed Al-Fayed engineered the romance with Dodi.

"And Dodi basically did whatever his father told him to do.

"He was engaged, left his fiancée, and went over to his father’s boat.

"That’s when the romance began."

Desperate for acceptance

Born in Egypt, Mohamed – who died aged 94 in August – is believed to have come from poverty, flogging bottles of Coca-Cola in the slums to stay afloat.

In 1954, he married Samira Khashoggi, the sister of a Saudi arms dealer, Adnan Khashoggi. Before splitting, they had one child together named Emad El-Din Mohamed Abdel Mena'em Fayed – better known as Dodi.

Being Mohamed's first son, the youngster was groomed for success, attending schools in Paris and the exclusive Le Rosey in Switzerland.

He was then shipped off to the prestigious Sandhurst military academy, which was also attended by Prince William and his brother Harry.

Sources close to the family said Dodi was submissive to his dad's demands. Nona Summers, a London socialite, said: "When Dodi had to see his father, everything stood still."

Close pal Jack Wiener added: "If we were away he would call his father every day or every other day and report in.

"Mohamed really did love his son… he could be very strict with Dodi and, the next moment, could be extremely warm and generous.

"That kept Dodi off-balance.

"Mohamed was the patriarch of the family, and it was difficult because Dodi never knew how his father would react."

Mohamed later advised the Sultan of Brunei and did a short stint in mining before moving to the UK in the 1970s.

In 1979, he bought the iconic Ritz hotel in Paris and in 1985, he bought Harrods. He married Finnish model Heini Wathen the same year and had four kids with her.

His £2billion fortune would continue to grow as he acquired Punch Magazine, Fulham FC and the former villa of King Edward VIII – the late Queen's uncle.

However, with high society keeping Mohamed at an arms distance, more pressure was piled on Dodi to bring the family into the inner sanctum.

In her book The Diana Chronicles, biographer Tina Brown drew a parallel with the life of King Charles.

She said: "Both were cowed by powerful fathers.

"The heir to Harrods, like the Prince of Wales, pursued Diana primarily because his father wanted him to."

Dodi follows own dream

While Dodi was offered an empire on a silver platter, he followed his nose and became a notorious playboy.

Prior to meeting Diana, he was pictured on wild nights out with A-list celebs like Brooke Shields, Julia Roberts and Winona Ryder.

In 1986, the party animal ended up tying the knot with model Suzanne Gregard, but the marriage lasted just eight months.

Using his family's fortune to pursue his passion in cinema, the ambitious filmmaker helped produce the critically-acclaimed Chariots of Fire, but was reportedly kicked off the set for sharing cocaine with the actors.

The movie went on to win four Oscars in 1981. In The Crown, Mohamed is seen staying up late to see if the film will win an award and if his name will be mentioned during the acceptance speech.

Did was reportedly very proud to show his dad what he had achieved.

After just a few months of dating, Diana and Dodi were both killed in the tragic Pont D’Alma tunnel crash in Paris on August 31, 1997.

Mohamed long insisted it was no accident, hiring his own team of investigators and appealling the findings of the French cops.

Most notoriously, he suggested the crash was an 'inside job' orchestrated by the Royal Family. He went further, saying they wanted to cover up the fact that Diana was pregnant with Dodi's child, which was disproved by medical record.

In the new series of The Crown, bereaved Mohamed speaks to the ghost of his dead son and begs for his forgiveness in a moment of poignant self-reflection.

But Johnny Gold, who knew Dodi through his nightclub, painted a more comforting picture of their relationship.

He said: "He had great pride in Mohamed, great respect.

"From what Dodi said, they had a wonderful relationship."

Source: Read Full Article