The ex-wife of the ruler of Dubai has been awarded £554m in Britain’s biggest ever divorce settlement.
Princess Haya bint Hussein will receive a lump sum payment of £251m as part of a ‘clean break’ from one of the world’s richest men, Sheikh Mohammed Al Maktoum, the High Court announced today.
The bulk of this will cover security costs to keep the princess and the two young children she had with the sheikh, Jalila, 14, and Zayed, 9, safe from kidnap.
The prince must also provide a £290m HSBC bank guarantee for his children underpinning an £11m annual maintenance payment, as well as ongoing security costs for them as adults, £3m to cover their education and £9.6m in maintenance arrears.
Lawyers for the princess had argued tight security was needed to keep her and the children safe from her ex-husband. At a previous High Court hearing, Sheikh Mohammed was found on the balance of probabilities to have forcibly returned Princesses Haya and Shamsa – his daughters with another one of his at least six wives – to Dubai when they attempted to flee the UAE.
In another bombshell today, the judgement revealed how Princess Haya alleged that she had paid out £7million to ‘blackmailers’ on her security staff to keep secret her affair with her British bodyguard, Russell Flowers, which led to the breakdown of her marriage.
Mr Justice Moor declared in a 73 page judgement that there was a ‘clear and ever-present risk’ to the princess and her two young children and that Sheikh Mohammed was the ‘main threat to her’.
The £554m figure awarded by Mr Justice Moor at the Family Division of the High Court dwarfs the previous highest settlement of £450m made in 2016 to the ex-wife of Russian oligarch Farkhad Akhmedov.
While the award will allow the princess to continue to live in the life of luxury she enjoyed as the sheikh’s sixth wife, it is £900m less than what her lawyers had originally demanded.
Lawyers for the princess had argued the huge sum was needed to keep her and the children safe from her ex-husband who a previous court hearing found was likely to have forcibly abducted two of his daughters after they attempted to flee Dubai.
Mr Justice Moor wrote in his judgment: ‘There will remain a clear and present risk to HRH for the remainder of her life, whether it be from HH (her ex) or just the normal terrorist and other threats faced by the princess in her position.’
Sheikh Mohammed – a close friend of the Queen over their mutual love of horse racing – was also found to have had his agents ‘hack’ the phones of his ex-wife and her lawyers, including Baroness Fiona Shackleton.
Following the princess’s affair, the sheikh had waged a campaign of intimidation forcing Haya to flee to London in fear of her life.
Giving evidence, the princess admitted she had taken money from one of her children’s bank accounts to ‘pay off’ a total of £7m to her alleged ‘blackmailers’.
Three former bodyguards who allegedly received the money were not named in court but identified as Mr A, B and C. Mr A was said to have been given £2.5m while Mr B and Mr C shared £4.45m.
The disclosure of the alleged payouts came as the princess was cross examined by her ex-husband’s legal team over money taken from her daughter’s account.
The court heard cash from the account had also been used to buy racehorses and another large sum sent to her brother to help fund his royal palace in Jordan.
Haya, 47, told the court it had been ‘convenient’ to use her daughter’s funds and she had hoped to repay the money but had yet to do so.
‘Those were the funds that I could get to make that payment quickly which were available to me,’ she told the court.
After hearing about the alleged blackmail, the judge remarked: ‘It sticks in the throat that these people have been able to get away with this and have not been charged.’
In his judgment he said: ‘This was clearly a most unsatisfactory episode. I realise I have not heard from the alleged blackmailers but nobody should be blackmailed and HRH must have been very frightened at this point. It would have been better if she had used her own allowance to fund all these payments.’
Mr Flowers, who served for five years in the Princess of Wales Royal Regiment, started working for Haya full time in 2016 and accompanied her on many trips abroad.
MailOnline first revealed that he started an affair with Haya after he was assigned to her at the sheikh’s 3,000 acre estate Dalham Hall in Suffolk.
Friends told MailOnline they would have adjoining rooms on overseas trips where he accompanied her.
Mr Flowers has refused to comment on the affair, citing a non-disclosure agreement.
The relationship ended the princess’s 16-year marriage and led to her fleeing Dubai in fear of her life after a loaded gun was left in her bedroom and she was told a helicopter would land at the royal palace and take her to prison.
It is because of these threats that the bulk of the financial award will be used to pay for round the clock security when the family are at their London and country home and abroad.
Lawyers for the princess had argued hundreds of millions were needed to keep her and the children safe from her ex-husband who at a previous High Court hearing was found to have forcibly returned two of his daughters to Dubai when they attempted to flee the UAE.
Princess Latifa was abducted from a yacht off the coast of India in 2017 and Princess Shamsa was abducted while in Cambridge and returned to Dubai in 2000.
Both princesses were Sheikh Mohammed’s children with one of his other wives, Huriah Ahmed al M’aash.
It was during that custody battle that the 73-year-old sheikh – a close friend of the Queen over their mutual love of horse racing – ordered the hacking of his ex-wife’s phones and her lawyers, including Baroness Fiona Shackleton.
In allocating millions for security Mr Justice Moor said there was a ‘clear and ever-present risk’ to the princess and her two young children.
The judge wrote: ‘There will remain a clear and present risk to HRH for the remainder of her life, whether it be from HH (her ex) for just the normal terrorist and other threats faced by the princess in her position.’
He added Sheikh Mohammed, who has an estimated £5bn fortune, was the ‘main threat to her’ and said the family should have £11m a year to cover all their security needs.
The princess told the court she felt ‘under siege’ after being alerted to the hacking.
In a lengthy ruling made public for the first time today, Mr Justice Moor said the sums of money involved in the settlement took this ‘case out of the ordinary’.
He described some of the amounts being asked for as ‘eye watering’.
The judge said the family had enjoyed ‘exceptional wealth’ and ‘remarkable standard of living’ while living in Dubai and this helped him decide on the settlement.
Lawyers for the princess had initially asked for £1.4bn so that the princess, 48, would no longer depend on her ex-husband for any money.
This amount was dismissed by Mr Justice Moor although he said she would need ‘water tight’ security for the rest of her life.
In a 73-page ruling the judge produced a detailed schedule containing a breakdown of how he had arrived at the £554m sum that would give her a ‘clean break’ from her ex.
Subjects covered included holidays, staffing costs, house maintenance costs, leisure and security.
The award covers security costs up to the year 2068 when both the sheikh, 73, and his ex-wife will be dead.
Much of the security budget covers the princess and her family at their two homes – a £100m mansion alongside Kensington Palace in London and a 12-bedroom country home near Egham in Surrey.
Costs submitted to the court showed that wages for bodyguards will amount to £865,000 a year.
The security budget allows for six top of the range maximum security cars to be bought every two years to ferry the family around.
The court was told that the cost of transporting the vehicles abroad for family holidays will be £900,000 a year.
The four-day hearing gave a revealing window into what the princess’s QC called a ‘money no object’ lifestyle she had enjoyed while married to the sheikh.
The sums of money discussed in the hearings always ran into the millions with £48,000 the smallest amount ever mentioned.
In the written judgment Mr Justice Moor said he had decided on a figure of £11m a year in child maintenance based on the money the children had received each year from their father.
While living in Dubai, the sheikh paid £18m a year into the bank accounts of the two children.
Princess Haya had a £9m a year allowance and a further £82m for household spending while running the royal palaces.
The judge said the princess had fled Dubai in 2019 leaving behind much of her jewellery and designer clothes.
Included in the sum awarded to her as a lump sum was £20m for items that were left behind and unlikely to be retrieved.