THE estranged wife of Dubai's billionaire ruler has today arrived at court for the custody battle over her kids.
Princess Haya Bint al-Hussein, 45, yesterday applied for wardship of their two children and "forced marriage protection" after fleeing to the UK.
Oxford-educated Princess Haya is a Jordanian princess and is one of six wives of Sheikh Rashid al-Maktoum, himself worth £9bn.
The preliminary hearing, in its second day today, will cover Princess Haya's application for a non-molestation order. The judge clarified that all orders were in relation to the children.
The court yesterday heard that Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, 70, applied for the children's return to Dubai.
He did not appear at court for the first day of the two-day hearing.
A forced marriage protection order is a type of injunction that stops someone from physical violence, making direct or indirect contact, taking them out of the country or making marriage arrangements on their behalf.
Yesterday, President of the Family Division Sir Andrew Macfarlane, turned down the Sheikh's attempt to introduce reporting restrictions, saying the details were in the "public interest".
However, reporters who were not accredited in the UK or whose publications were based outside of England and Wales were prevented from attending.
The names and ages of the children are not allowed to be published under British law.
Princess Haya fled Dubai at the beginning of the year and eventually arrived in Germany in May before moving on to Britain.
It's said she left her husband after disapproving how the Sheikh had treated his daughter Princess Latifa.
Sheikha Latifa, 33, has allegedly been abducted by Emirati forces from a yacht off the coast of India as she attempted to flee and has not been since December.
Prior to today's court appearance Princess Haya had reportedly been hiding out at her £85 million mansion near Kensington Palace in West London.
What has Princess Haya applied for?
- Forced marriage protection order (FMPO) – a type of injunction to forbid the perpetrator from doing certain things such as being physically violent, contacting the person directly or indirectly (by making someone else contact them), taking them out of the country, or making marriage arrangements. The injunction can also require the person named in the order to do certain things, for example, handover passports to the court or ensure a young person attends school.
- Non-molestation order – You can apply if you're a victim of domestic violence and the person is a husband, wife or civil partner or close family members.
Princess Haya is being represented by specialist divorce lawyer Fiona Shackleton, who negotiated Prince Charles' split with Princess Diana.
Yesterday, protesters waving banners were seen demonstrating against Sheikh Mohammed, who is being represented by the well-connected Lady Helen Ward, a partner at Stewarts Law.
Despite living in Dubai, the estranged couple are able to carry out custody or divorce proceedings in the UK without having citizenship as they are not criminal proceedings.
The well-developed English court system has a reputation for giving a fair hearing and offering privacy to those involved in custody cases and high figure divorces.
The Sheikh's extensive property portfolio in and connections to the UK will have enabled the couple to have their case heard at London's High Court.
He graduated from prestigious army academy Sandhurst and is a powerful figure in Britain's horseracing industry.
Princess Haya was educated in Britain and also has a great love of horses. She was an Olympic equestrian in 2000 and served on the International Olympic Committee.
Experts say if they do divorce they could be fighting over a fortune of £4.5billion, making it one of the most high worth divorces in British history.
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