Mohamed Al-Fayed, the self-made billionaire who owned Harrods and Fulham FC, has died – almost 26 years to the day after his son died in a car accident with Princess Diana in Paris.
The Egyptian businessman, whose business interests in the UK included Harrods department store and Fulham FC, was 94.
Born in Alexandria, he moved to the UK in the 1960s, where he quickly became a driving force in Dubai’s development. He later bought with his brothers the House of Fraser, which owned Harrods, and the Ritz Hotel in Paris.
But most Brits know him best for his constant search for answers to questions surrounding the death of his son Dodi, who died in a car crash in Paris alongside Diana, Princess of Wales, on August 31, 1997 – aged 26 and a day before his death death.
Diana and Dodi left the Ritz in Paris in the early hours of August 31 and were being chased away from the paparazzi by Henri Paul, the hotel’s deputy head of security, when Paul lost control of the car and crashed at around 100 km/h a pillar crashed.
Mohammed Al Fayed, former owner of Harrods and Fulham FC, has died aged 94
Mohammed Al-Fayed pictured with Diana, Princess of Wales at a charity event at Harrods in London in 1996
Mr Al-Fayed later unveiled a statue of Diana and his son Dodi in Harrods commemorating their lives – with the slogan ‘Innocent Victims’ on its plinth.
Dodi Al-Fayed, son of Mohamed Al-Fayed and film producer, was killed along with Diana in Paris in 1997
Mr Al-Fayed launched his own private investigation into the crash after being dissatisfied with the official investigations.
A 2008 investigation concluded that Dodi and Diana were unlawfully killed because Paul had been driving under the influence, neither was wearing a seat belt, and because paparazzi had chased them through the streets of Paris in the early hours of the morning.
Still, Mr Al-Fayed reportedly murmured to journalists as he left the court: “The most important thing is murder.”
He was later immortalized in the Netflix series The Crown, played by Israeli actor Salim Daw, who will return in the next series to play the businessman that follows the accident involving his son and the princess of Wales died.
An episode of the show follows Mr Al-Fayed’s rise to fame and eventual meeting with Princess Diana, played by Elizabeth Debicki.
Describing him as an “incredible, fascinating character,” Daw told Radio Times, “He’s so motivated to get to the top that it actually defines the way he lives his life and the way he behaves.”
Along with his brothers, Mr Al-Fayed acquired a stake in House of Fraser and later bought the entire business – including the prestigious Harrods department store in Knightsbridge, which he ran until 2010
Mr Al-Fayed bought Fulham FC in 1997 and his cash injection helped the club rise to the Premier League and European competitions in just a few short years. He is pictured here in 2011
Mohamed Al-Fayed pictured in Paris in 2016. He sold Harrods and Fulham FC – his largest UK business holdings – in 2010 and 2013 respectively
Mr Al-Fayed – here leaving the Royal Courts of Justice in 2007. The inquest into the deaths of his son Dodi and Diana, Princess of Wales concluded that the couple were subsequently killed
Along with his brothers, Al-Fayed bought House of Fraser, which also owned London department store Harrods in Knightsbridge, in the 1980s.
He retained ownership of the business after the Frasers group went public until he sold it to Qatar Holding in 2010.
He also gained the respect of Fulham FC fans after buying the west London professional side for £6million in 1997 – and his cash injection saw the team climb into the Premier League and European competition within a few years.
Mr Al-Fayed sold the site to billionaire businessman Shahid Khan in 2013.
Prior to 1997, Mr Al-Fayed was also known to the British public for his involvement in the cash-for-frequencies scandal, which saw MPs resign in disgrace for failing to explain that they were being paid by the Egyptian to ask questions had been parliament.
He turned the allegations to the Guardian newspaper in 1994 and led to MP Tim Smith’s resignation.
Another MP, Neil Hamilton, was found to have accepted bribes, including a holiday at the Ritz and free shopping at Harrods.
He did not resign, but the scandal led to him being inextricably linked to misdemeanor and losing his seat in the 1997 general election.
The questions related to the controversy over whether Mr Al-Fayed owned Harrods, and the businessman said he had been approached by lobbyist Ian Greer to grease the hands of willing MPs
married Finnish socialite and former model Heini Wathén, with whom he has four children: Jasmine, Karim, Camilla and Omar.