A controversial storyline in the new season of The Crown shows Egyptian billionaire Mohamed al-Fayed pushing his son Dodi into a relationship with Princess Diana as part of a ploy to finally gain British citizenship after two failed applications.
But those close to al-Fayed claim while he likely saw opportunities in the romance, citizenship was never the true motive.
Did Mohamed al-Fayed Push Dodi into Diana Romance for UK Citizenship?
Al-Fayed, former owner of Harrods department store, is portrayed insisting Dodi leave his fiancée to entertain Diana on the family yacht, explicitly stating that marriage between Dodi and Diana would secure citizenship for Al-Fayed.
However, Robert Jobson, author, and friend of al-Fayed, calls this citizenship plotline “bull****,” stating that Al-Fayed knew he would never get citizenship and merely wanted Dodi to be happy.
“It’s a little unfair. I knew Mohamed very well,” Jobson told Newsweek.
While al-Fayed undoubtedly adored his family, The Crown also shows his possible manipulation, like having cleaners check if Diana and Dodi were intimate.
In the series, he is also accused of hiring paparazzo Mario Brenna to photograph Dodi and Diana kissing on the yacht.
According to Charles Rae, former royal correspondent for The Sun, those photos of Dodi and Diana kissing were probably staged, either by al-Fayed or Diana herself.
Rae told Newsweek that he knew the photographer behind the photos:
“Well, I don’t know if it was Mohamed who called the photographer but I do know who the photographer was and I know he was called. He never told me who it was who called him. It could only have been Mohamed al-Fayed or Princess Diana. She could have done it because she would have wanted to show the royal family she was having a good time and enjoying herself.”
So did paternal love or personal ambition motivate al-Fayed’s actions? A former friend suggests that while citizenship was never the goal, al-Fayed likely recognized the opportunities of the affair, given he was a “canny old ****.”
Yet in the end, what mattered most may have simply been the joy of seeing his son with one of the most famous women in the world.
The Crown takes artistic license to paint al-Fayed as obsessed with using Diana for citizenship.
But those close to him maintained his priority was happiness for his son and that he harbored no illusions of attaining British citizenship through a royal marriage.
While elements like the paparazzi photos hint at some orchestration, the true depth of Al-Fayed’s role in the Diana/Dodi romance remains ambiguous.
Ultimately, The Crown spins a particular tale of paternal ambition versus love. But like much connected to Diana and Dodi’s affair, definitive answers evade even as speculation abounds.
Perhaps some questions are destined to linger as long as a fascination with the People’s Princess endures.
What cannot be questioned is that the tragic end of Diana and Dodi left al-Fayed reeling at the loss of a beloved son.