- Died one day before the anniversary of the death of son and Diana
- Promoting a discredited conspiracy theory about the crash
- Billionaire is tolerated but not accepted in Britain
- Symbols of your own establishment: Fulham FC, Ritz in Paris
LONDON, Sept 1 (Portal) – Mohamed al-Fayed, the Egyptian self-made billionaire who bought the Harrods department store and spread the discredited conspiracy theory that the British royal family was behind the deaths of his son and Princess Diana, has died. said his family.
Born in the Egyptian city of Alexandria, al-Fayed began his career as a carbonated drinks salesman and then worked as a sewing machine salesman. He built his family’s fortune in real estate, shipping and construction, first in the Middle East and then in Europe.
Although al-Fayed owned establishment landmarks such as Harrods, Fulham and the Ritz Hotel in Paris, he was always an outsider in Britain, tolerated but not accepted.
He fell out with the British government over its refusal to grant him citizenship in the country that had been his home for decades and often threatened to move to France, which earned him the Legion of Honor, the highest civilian honor.
Al-Fayed – who could be charming, autocratic, vengeful and at times completely outspoken – spent ten years trying to prove that Diana and his son Dodi were murdered when their car crashed in a Paris road tunnel in 1997 as they tried to stop paparazzi Photographers escape on motorbikes.
According to the investigation into Diana’s death, he claimed that she gave birth to Dodi’s child and accused Prince Philip, the Queen’s husband, of ordering the British security services to kill her to prevent her from marrying a Muslim and his has a child.
Al-Fayed died on Wednesday, his family said, a day before the 26th anniversary of Dodi and Diana’s deaths.
“Mrs Mohamed Al Fayed, her children and grandchildren would like to confirm that her beloved husband, father and grandfather Mohamed passed away peacefully in old age,” the family statement said.
While al-Fayed was known for his invention, exaggeration and boastfulness, he was also a central figure in key moments in Britain’s recent history.
His acrimonious takeover of Harrods in 1985 sparked one of Britain’s bitterest business feuds, while in 1994 he sparked a scandal when he revealed he had paid politicians to ask questions in Parliament on his behalf.
Like many billionaires, al-Fayed rejected convention. He once said he wanted to be mummified in a golden sarcophagus in a glass pyramid on the roof of Harrods.
In the store where he introduced a dress code – including for customers – that he personally enforced, he installed a kitschy bronze memorial statue of Diana and Dodi dancing under the wings of an albatross.
As Fulham’s owner, he erected a larger-than-life, sequined statue of Michael Jackson outside the stadium, even though the singer only attended a single game. When people complained, he said: “If some stupid fans don’t understand or appreciate such a gift, they can go to hell.”
TAKEOVER OF HARRODS
Much of al-Fayed’s past remained obscure – even his date of birth. He said he was born in 1933 in then-British-ruled Egypt. However, a British government inquiry into the Harrods takeover said in 1929.
Al-Fayed settled in Britain in 1974 and added al to his name. The satirical magazine Private Eye described this as self-glorification and called him the “false pharaoh”.
In 1985, he and his brothers beat businessman Roland “Tiny” Rowland at Harrods, one of the most famous stores in the world.
Al-Fayed hoped that purchasing the store would gain him acceptance in British society. Instead, a series of bitter disputes broke out.
Rowland brought al-Fayed and his brothers to a Commerce Department investigation, claiming they had misrepresented their assets.
The investigation raised doubts about her origins as part of a wealthy business family, previous business relationships and her independent financial resources.
After a quarter of a century of ownership, al-Fayed sold Harrods to Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund in 2010.
Al-Fayed’s application for British citizenship was rejected by the government in 1995. He said racism keeps him on the edge of acceptance.
A year earlier, al-Fayed embarrassed the government by revealing that he had given gifts and payments to politicians in return for them asking parliamentary questions on his behalf. The so-called “cash-for-questions” scandal ended the careers of four politicians, including a minister.
The accusations of sleaze weakened the Conservatives, who lost a landslide election to Labor leader Tony Blair in 1997.
DIANA AND DODI
This summer, al-Fayed’s son Dodi began a relationship with Princess Diana, who was divorcing Prince Charles, heir to the British throne. British tabloids showed Dodi and Diana vacationing on a yacht in the south of France.
After traveling to Paris, the couple were killed when their Mercedes, driven at high speed by a chauffeur who had been drinking whiskey and trying to avoid the paparazzi, crashed into a concrete pillar in the Pont de l’Alma tunnel.
Wracked with grief and an overwhelming sense of injustice, al-Fayed spent millions on legal battles to ensure there was an investigation.
As it began a decade after the London crash, al-Fayed accused all members of the royal family, Prime Minister Blair, Diana’s sister Sarah, the French embalmers of Diana’s body and the Paris ambulance drivers of being involved.
But the jury said the couple were unlawfully killed by their chauffeur’s driving. Al-Fayed said he accepted the verdict and renounced legal attempts to prove the murder.
“I leave the rest to God to take revenge,” he said.
Reporting by Andrew MacAskill; Additional reporting by Nilutpal Timsina in Bengaluru. Editing by Giles Elgood, Rosalba O’Brien and Andrew Heavens
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