Mohamed Al-Fayed was a prominent Egyptian businessman, before he passed away in August 2023. He previously owned luxury department store Harrods and London football team Fulham, and still has the Hôtel Ritz Paris to his name. His son Dodi Fayed was in a relationship with the late Princess Dianawhen their car fatally crashed and caused their deaths in 1997. In The Crown season five, Salim Dau takes on the role of the 94-year-old tycoon, whose life we have taken a look back on here.
When was Mohamed Al-Fayed born?
Mohamed's birth year has been widely disputed, but the Department of Trade found it to be 1929. He was born in Alexandria, Egypt, and is thought to have been the eldest son of a primary school teacher.
When did Mohamed Al-Fayed die?
The businessman died on 30 August 2023, aged 94. It was confirmed by his family that Mohamed 'passed away peacefully' from old age.
Who is Mohamed Al-Fayed's wife, and who are his children?
Mohamed was married to Saudi Arabian author Samira Khashoggi from 1954 until 1956. Together they had one son, Dodi - who tragically passed away alongside Princess Diana after their car crash. The businessman went on to wed Finnish model and socialite Heini Wathén almost three decades after his divorce in 1985, with the couple sharing four children: Jasmine, Karim, Camilla and Omar.
What has Mohamed Al-Fayed done in his career?
In November 2022, Mohamed's wealth was estimated to be around $1.9billion (£1.6billion), which he began to amass after founding a shipping company with his brothers in Egypt, whose headquarters were later moved to Italy. In the mid-60s, he built up a relationship with Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai, who reportedly introduced him to British construction and property development companies. The magnate proceeded to buy the Ritz hotel in Paris in 1979, obtain House of Fraser (which then owned Harrods) with his brothers in 1985, and purchase Fulham Football Club in 1997.
Who owns Harrods now?
Back in 2010, it was announced that Mohamed had sold Harrods to Qatar Holdings for £1.5 billion pounds. The sale came as a surprise to many considering the businessman had been open about his attachment to the department store - even once claiming he wanted to be entombed on the roof. Harrods was also home to a display in honour of Dodi and Diana, including a bronze statue of the couple dancing.
Opening up about the move, Mohamed said, 'It came at a moment where I felt absolutely disillusioned. Of course it makes me sad, but first of all, I can't take this. I am 77 years old. I have children, I have grandchildren. I have done it, and time for me now to rest and enjoy.'
Will Mohamed Al-Fayed be in the new season of The Crown?
The Crown season six will start streaming this November, with actor Salim Dau set to make a return as the businessman as the new season follows Diana and Dodi's death.
Opening up about playing Mohamed, Salim said, 'I adore this character. I love him so much and I enjoy portraying him because I love him. In this series, he is so human and he's so colourful. He’s hard sometimes, very hard, funny, like a child - with his son he’s sometimes very, very hard but he has plenty of love for his son and the audience will see that and will feel exactly what I’m talking about.'
How did Mohamed Al-Fayed meet Princess Diana?
Although in season five of The Crown, Mohamed is seen meeting Diana at a polo match, it is not known exactly where Mohamed and Princess Diana first crossed paths but he is the matchmaker behind his son's ill-fated relationship with her in 1997. Mohamed and the late Princess of Wales had a good relationship, with the former director of public affairs at Harrods, Michael Cole, saying in 1995, 'Diana is so easygoing with Mohamed. Mohamed is not one of those who's overwhelmed by her. They spark off each other very well.'
In the summer of 1997, Mohamed invited Diana and her sons Prince William and Harry to holiday on his yacht in the south of France - which is where her romance with Dodi blossomed.
On 31 August, Dodi and Diana were killed in a car crash at the Pont de l'Alma underpass in Paris, aged 42 and 36 respectively.
In the wake of their deaths, Mohamed accused MI6 of killing the couple on the orders of Prince Philip, who he claimed would never allow a Muslim to marry into the Royal Family. Years of legal battles concluded in 2008 when Mohamed accepted the jury's verdict: that they were unlawfully killed by grossly negligent driving.
What is Mohamed Al-Fayed's connection to Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson?
In the opening scenes of season five, episode three, of The Crown, Mohamed is fascinated when Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson visit Egypt. After purchasing The Ritz, he tells Dodi to dismiss a Black server (Sydney Johnson, played by Jude Akuwudike) but when he learns that he was in fact the Duke of Windsor's personal valet for 30 years, Mohamed hires him as his own valet. Sydney turns out to be an incredible asset to the businessman by teaching him the ways of the Royal Family.
Following Wallis' death in 1986, Mohamed took out a 50-year lease on the Duke and Duchess of Windsor’s French home, Le Bois, in Bois de Boulogne. He intended to turn it into an honorary museum for the former King (who passed in 1976) and his wife.
After completing a £10.4million restoration on the renamed Villa Windsor in 1990, Mohamed said, 'It’s like a mausoleum. It sometimes gives you the creeps—both of them having died here. But it’s still a happy place, a great fantasy which I love to live in.'