How Queen Elizabeth II is Connected to a Dark Story of Abuse in Dubai

For an estranged wife, hearing one’s powerful and wealthy husband discuss “shining swords with sharp blades” is an unsettling prospect. Surely Princess Haya, the daughter of King Hussein of Jordan and the estranged sixth wife of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum of Dubai, felt similarly. Princess Haya has been facing a bitter custody battle against the Sheikh in the UK, but her story is only the latest in a dark and ongoing tale of oppression and abuse coming from Sheikh Mohammed’s family members. 

Luckily for Princess Haya, she has some friends in high places — the British royal family.  

A history of fleeing women

Princess Haya Bint al-Hussein
Princess Haya Bint al-Hussein | Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images

Princess Haya has been lauded as the new face of women in the Middle East, and has been a vocal supporter of women’s rights in the past. However, her husband is 23 years her senior, and likely doesn’t share quite the same worldview as his progressive sixth wife. 

In fact, two of the Sheikh’s 23 children have tried to escape his rule in Dubai, both unsuccessfully. Princess Shamsa Maktoum attempted to flee from the Sheikh’s home in Surrey while on vacation. She successfully managed to run away from the home, but was allegedly eventually caught in Cambridge and returned to Dubai. Since then, Shamsa has made no public appearances, and there is no sure information on her fate, though there have been frequent allegations that she’s been tortured, imprisoned, and drugged into obedience since her return.

However, Princess Latifa Maktoum, another one of his daughters, was so appalled by what happened to Shamsa upon her return to Dubai that she tried to flee as well. In a video she made before her attempt to flee, which she made to reveal what her life was like in case she failed, Latifa discussed a life of oppression, control via drugs and gaslighting, and years of on and off imprisonment, and attempts upon her life from her own father. 

Unfortunately, Princess Latifa failed in her attempt to seek refuge as well. Like Shamsa, she has been very minimally involved in the public — she’s only made one major appearance since her return. 

The custody battle begins

Princess Haya Bint al-Hussein
Princess Haya Bint al-Hussein | Leon Neal/Getty Images

Princess Haya was able to successfully flee the country, unlike the other members of the Sheikh’s royal family. After meticulously planning her escape, Haya was able to make her way to Germany, where authorities refused to return her to Dubai. Since then, she has made her way to the U.K., where she has friends among the royal family. 

Now, Haya is beginning a custody battle for her children, in the hopes of protecting them from the same sort of lives she and her step-daughters lived. On the first day of the preliminary hearing, Sir Andrew McFarlane, the president of the Family Courts Division, said Haya is seeking a “forced marriage protection order”, wardship of her children, and a non-molestation order. 

It is widely believed that Princess Haya fled from Dubai after learning about what truly happened to Princesses Latifa and Shamsa when they were caught and returned to Dubai. 

Connection to the royal family 

HRH Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein of Jordan and HM Queen Elizabeth II
HRH Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein of Jordan and HM Queen Elizabeth II | Indigo/Getty Images

As it turns out, both Princess Haya and her estranged husband are close friends with Queen Elizabeth II. Before her marriage to Sheikh Mohammed, Princess Haya was a lauded equestrian. In 2000, Princess Haya represented Jordan in the Sydney Olympics. Like Queen Elizabeth II, both Princess Haya and Sheikh Mohammed own racehorses of their own. 

In 2009, Princess Haya attended the Royal Windsor Horse Show with the Queen. As a result of their shared interests, the Queen and Princess Haya have spent time together on many occasions. 

In fact, on the Queen’s 91st birthday, Princess Haya shared an image of the Queen on Instagram alongside a caption that referred to the Queen as a “the personification of goodness” as well as a “force for hope.” 

Fans of Princess Haya are likely hoping that her close connection to the royal matriarch will help keep her safe during her turbulent escape from Sheikh Mohammed.