They played an integral part in one of the most shocking moments in the British royal family’s history and, as a result, Diana’s former partner Dodi and his billionaire father Mohamed Al-Fayed are key characters in season five of The Crown.
In the recently released Netflix series, we’re introduced into the family through fictitious scenes that dive into Mohamed’s supposed obsession with the Royal Family.
Omid Scobie – Yahoo UK’s royal executive editor – breaks down what was created in the writers room using a bit of revisionist history, and what happened in real life. Dodi and Diana’s romance wasn’t just luxurious holidays in Saint Tropez, but the stuff tabloid dreams are made of: from jilted ex-girlfriends to unhappy former in-laws, Scobie explains not only how their relationship got off the ground, but all the obstacles the couple had to overcome
OMID SCOBIE: The newly introduced Fayed family immediately cement themselves as key characters in season five of "The Crown." Our introduction to the family is given in the form of a fictitious flashback, with viewers given a glimpse into the inception of Mohammed Al-Fayed's supposed royal obsession. In the flashback scene, we see Muhammad, at the time selling Coca-Cola on the street apparently, staring on with jealousy at the status and prestige of Prince Edward and Wallis Simpson. It's a moment that seems to drive his every move, as the next time we meet him, it's obvious his plans are to establish close connections with the royal family.
But despite numerous attempts to win favor with the queen through various projects and donations, it's actually Diana who he forms his first royal connection with. In this meeting scene that we see, Diana joins Mohammed at an event after his company's being shunned by the Queen. They seem to get on well from the get-go, forming immediate inside jokes and with Mohammed introducing the Princess to his son Dodi. Now, this is an example of some of the revisionist history from "The Crown's" writers that we hear about, as it's reported that Diana and her eventual lover Dodi had actually met a decade earlier when Dodi was playing polo against Prince Charles.
Nevertheless, the couple grew close after Al Fayed's father invited the Princess of Wales and her children, William and Harry, to be his guests in Saint-Tropez. Photos of the pair kissing hit the press, making headlines around the world on August 10th, 1997. Those highly sought after pictures-- you may remember them-- were reportedly sold for more than 1 million pounds.
This was the blaze of global intrigue that formed the backdrop for Diana's three weeks in the Mediterranean with her sons and Dodi. It was reported at the time and since that this pairing was the master plan of Mohammed, who simply saw royal marriage as his way into the exclusive inner circle. This hot new couple became a media obsession for the public. And the paparazzi followed them from day to night.
Dodi's reputation as a millionaire playboy with a penchant for attractive famous women had actually caused quite a stir back in Britain. Also, critical articles quickly began to appear in tabloids. And even "People Magazine" in the US questioned if Dodi was a dreamboat or a deadbeat. These accusations only intensified when his former partner Kelly Fisher accused him in a teary press conference of jilting her at the altar, and announced plans to take legal action.
However, despite the furor, for the most part, the focus remained on Diana. And rumors began to circulate that members of the royal family did not approve of this new pairing.