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Verdict delivered regarding custody of Princess Haya and Sheikh Mohammed’s two children while Sheikh fights to keep judgment private


Picture by Mark Thomas / i-Images

The verdict has been read in a London court regarding the custody case of Princess Haya, 45, and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President of the UAE and Rule of Dubai’s two children.

A public statement was read out on Wednesday by Lord Justice Underhill saying that the case “raises matters of public interest beyond the particular issue in the wardship proceedings.”

“The first concerned certain disputed factual issues; the second concerned issues arising out of the special position of the father as the sovereign and head of government of a foreign state,” he further explained.

However, the 70-year-old Sheikh began an appeal yesterday to keep the decision private and out of the media.

Underhill said about the appeal, “The father contends that that decision was wrong in law and that the judgments should not be published, if at all, in advance of the welfare hearing.

“The appeal is opposed by the mother, the independent guardian appointed by the court to represent the children’s interests and by a number of media organisations. It raises questions both about what is in the best interests of the children and about how to balance that, if necessary, against the rights of the press to report matters of public interest and the decisions of the courts.”

Over the past year, London’s High Court has heard arguments regarding the wardship of the children before the president of the Family Division, Andrew McFarlane.

McFarlane said last month that these decisions should be made public.

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Last July, Princess Haya – the half-sister of King Abdullah of Jordan and daughter of the late King Hussein – applied for a “forced marriage protection order” in England’s High Court. This protection order helps if someone is being forced into marriage or has already been forced into marriage. Princess Haya requested the order for one of her children.

She also applied for a “non-molestation order,” which is supposed to protect from harassment of threats. In addition, she applied for wardship, which means that the court makes any major decisions where children are concerned.

That same month, Princess Haya and the Ruler of Dubai released a joint statement about the court case. It said, “These proceedings are concerned with the welfare of the two children of their marriage and do not concern divorce or finances.”

They added that this case is to “deal with issues relating to how to proceed to a final hearing to determine the welfare issues.”

Princess Haya has been present during the court hearings in London – her husband has not. The parties are being represented by two well-known family lawyers: Fiona Shackleton is representing Princess Haya while Helen Ward is representing Sheikh Mohammed. Princess Haya is the daughter of King Hussein of Jordan and his third wife Queen Alia, and the half-sister of King Abdullah II. She married Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum in 2004, and they have a son and a daughter together. She is believed to be his sixth wife, and he has around 20 children.

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Reports began circulating in June 2019 that Haya had fled the UAE and was seeking asylum in Europe. The Princess supposedly first travelled to Germany where she was denied asylum before heading to the United Kingdom. This came after the much-publicized escape and capture of the Sheikh’s daughter, Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who attempted to escape the country in 2018 and made a dramatic video exposing her father’s nature to the world.

She was captured in the Indian Ocean and returned to Dubai with many fearing for her safety. Latifa was photographed in December 2018 with former Irish President and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson in the UAE. Human rights groups have questioned Robinson’s visit and called for more investigations. Latifa has not been seen since those photos were released.

Princess Haya was responsible for Ms Robinson visiting Sheikha Latifa and later said in an interview, “It is a private family matter, and I do not want to go into it because for the protection of Latifa herself and to ensure that she’s not used by anyone else. She is a vulnerable young woman.”

King Abdullah of Jordan, Princess Haya’s older half-brother, appointed her as a senior diplomat at the Jordanian embassy in the UK in London last year – which allows her to claim diplomatic immunity.

Additional reporting by Moniek Bloks

About author

Brittani is from Tennessee, USA. She is a political scientist and historian after graduating with a degree in the topics from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in December 2014. She also holds a master's degree from Northeastern University. She enjoys reading and researching all things regarding the royals of the world. Her love of royals began in middle school, and she's been researching, reading, and writing on royalty for over a decade. She became Europe Editor in October 2016, and then Deputy Editor in January 2019, and has been featured on several podcasts, radio shows, news broadcasts and websites.