The Al-Fayed family encounters the house of Windsor beginning in the fifth season of "The Crown."
The family amassed significant wealth before hobnobbing with royals.
Questions about the family's background weighed down their efforts to rise in British society.
The controversial Al-Fayed family is introduced in season five of Netflix's hit historical series "The Crown," when Mohamed Al-Fayed befriends Princess Diana at the Royal Windsor Horse Show.
As shown in the sixth season of the royal drama, Mohamed's son Dodi was newly dating Diana at the time of her death. He also died in the car crash that killed the late Princess of Wales in August 1997.
Here's everything we know about the Al-Fayeds.
Season five of "The Crown" introduces the Al-Fayed family, formerly the Fayed family, to the royal saga.
In season five episode, three of "The Crown," the Al-Fayed family is questioned about their background when they put in a bid to purchase the Ritz in Paris.
Their brazen social climbing and association with the royal family placed the clan in the spotlight in season five.
The wealthy family is well-known throughout Britain for purchasing Harrods and for their close personal ties to Princess Diana.
Despite their wealth and fame, the family had trouble fully integrating into the highest rung of British society, the royal family. A 1997 article from the Washington Post said Mohamed Al-Fayed was "snubbed by the titled blue bloods."
"The Crown" depicts them being kept at an arm's length by Queen Elizabeth II despite their overtures.
Mohamed Al-Fayed, the patriarch of the family, was worth $2 billion in April 2023, according to Forbes.
According to Forbes, Al-Fayed's net worth was $2 billion as of April 2023.
Examples of the family's wealth, including expensive watches and private planes, are depicted in "The Crown."
The source of the family's wealth has been called into question by the British Department of Trade and Industry, who accused them of misrepresenting information about "their origins, their wealth, their business interests, and their resources" when taking over Harrods, according to the New York Times.
Mohamed Al-Fayed was born in Egypt when it was still part of the British Empire, which made a strong impression on him as a child.
Mohamed, who financed the family's most notable acquisitions, was born in British-occupied Egypt sometime in the late 1920s or early 1930s.
Mohamed has been quoted by Town and Country as saying he was born in 1933, which is listed as his birth year in the National Portrait Gallery. But a report from the British Department of Trade and Industry published in 1990 contradicted that and listed his birth year as 1929.
"The Crown" shows Mohamed growing up shortly after King George VI abdicated the British throne to court and married his American sweetheart Wallis Simpson. The fictionalized Mohameh worships the British as "Gods" in the series.
In real life, he spoke to The New York Times in 1985 about the impact of this on his upbringing, including having an English nanny and an education fashioned after British standards.
"The impression of a great empire and a King dropping everything because of his love for a woman — this is what I lived with as a child," Mohamed told People in 1990.
In his 20s, Mohamed worked for the prominent Saudi businessman Adnan Khashoggi, and he married Adnan's sister Samira Khashoggi in 1954.
According to a 1997 Vanity Fair article by royal biographer Sally Bedell Smith, Adnan Khashoggi, a Saudi businessman from a prominent family, employed Mohamed in his import-export business in the 1950s.
Adnan's father served as the "private physician to the king of Saudi Arabia," Vanity Fair reports.
Mohamed married Adnan's sister Samira in 1954, and the couple divorced a few years later after the birth of their son, Dodi.
Samira remarried an ambassador named Anas Yassin and penned several books before dying in the late 1980s.
Mohamed and Samira had their son Dodi in 1955, shortly before divorcing.
Emad El-Din Mohamed Abdel Mena'em Fayed, also known as "Dodi," was born in 1955. He became a successful film producer with his father's financial resources.
Mohamed moved to the United Kingdom in the mid-1970s and added the prefix "Al" to his surname.
According to a September 1995 article by Maureen Orth in Vanity Fair, Mohamed added the "Al" prefix to his surname shortly before migrating to Britain in the 1970s.
In a 1985 interview with The New York Times, he discussed vowing never to set foot in Egypt again.
As shown in "The Crown," the Al-Fayed family purchased The Ritz Paris in 1979 and renovated it.
In season five, episode three of "The Crown," Mohamed and Dodi attend a meeting with representatives of The Ritz hotel in Paris, who are concerned about whether or not the funds behind their bid for the hotel are guaranteed.
Mohamed bought the hotel in real life in 1979 and subsequently completed a massive renovation to the historic property.
In 1981, Mohamed funded the film "Chariots of Fire." The film's director thanked Mohamed and Dodi, who produced the film, on the Oscars stage in 1982.
Dodi and his father produced the Academy Award-winning movie "Chariots of Fire" in 1981.
In "The Crown," viewers see real footage from producer David Puttnam's acceptance speech for the Academy Award for best picture at the 54th Annual Academy Awards in 1982.
He lists "Mohamed and Dodi Fayed" among the film's champions and thanks them for putting "their money where my mouth was."
Mohamed acquired Harrods, a famed department store significant to British culture, in 1984.
Despite owning this landmark, CBS reported in 1998 that Mohamed was denied British citizenship because of discrepancies about the source of the funds he used to purchase the store.
Mohamed and his brothers worked together frequently, according to the New York Times, though Mohamed was the one "The Crown" showed doing the bulk of the business deals.
"In general, if you speak to any one of the brothers, you have spoken to all of them,'' Peter Costain, a director of the construction company Costain Group, told the New York Times in 1985.
The family reportedly sold the department store to the Qatari royal family in 2010, according to The Guardian.
In 1985, Mohamed married Finnish socialite turned model Heini Wathén.
Mohamed and Wathén have four children together: Jasmine, Karim, Camilla and Omar.
The impression the Duke and Duchess of Windsor made on a young Mohamed led him to spend $14.4 million to renovate one of their former Parisian residences in 1986.
Mohamed spent $14.4 million to bring "Villa Windsor" back to its former glory when the residence fell into disrepair, according to Architectural Digest.
He converted the first two floors of the property into a museum that would accommodate "historians, members of the British royal family, personalities, friends, and important guests of the Ritz," AD reported.
In 1997, Mohamed purchased the Fulham Football Club, a club in England's Premier League based in southwest London, and actively supported the team.
CNN reported that he showed up to matches after purchasing the team in 1997 for roughly $9 million, and he poured an additional $300 million into the club.
He sold the team to Shahid Khan, owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars, in 2013, according to CNN.
Despite his attempts to reach the highest echelons of British society, Mohamed reportedly felt snubbed by the British upper crust.
Mohamed was an influential but controversial figure in Britain in the '90s and '00s, according to Town & Country.
Many of the spaces he sought for his family, like seats at royal events, were occupied by people who had been courtiers for generations, and his family's sudden arrival on the scene in the 1970s reportedly prevented them from gaining that level of access.
Mohamed cited British racism and snobbery as the reason he was not granted British citizenship, despite several attempts.
Mohamed applied to be a British citizen several times, first in 1995. And when his applications were fruitless, he exposed politicians who had taken favors from him to the media.
"I did it to take my revenge, to show people who really runs this country, what quality they are," he told Vanity Fair in 1995.
"These days, it's only the trash people," he said of Conservative British politicians at the time.
He blamed racism for the rejections in the same interview. "I can still hear the prejudice, the racists at the core of the upper class," he told Vanity Fair. "They call themselves the so-called establishment," he said.
"I only wish to share the nationality of my four British children," he said in a letter to the New York Times in 1996.
But Princess Diana befriended Mohamed and eventually formed relationships with other family members.
In "The Crown," Mohamed's character befriends Princess Diana at the Harrods-sponsored Royal Windsor Horse Show. After he is snubbed by the Queen (Imelda Staunton), Diana sits with Mohamed, and he asks her to call him "Mou Mou."
"The Crown" depicts the pair sharing a sense of humor and compassionate nature.
Mohamed and Diana were often spotted enjoying one another's company. She was reportedly unbothered by the vagueness surrounding his family's background.
Vanity Fair reported that Mohamed was a friend of the late Earl Spencer.
"Diana is so easygoing with Mohamed. . . . Mohamed is not one of those who are overwhelmed by her. They spark off each other very well," Michael Cole, then a director of public relations at Harrods, told Vanity Fair about their friendship in 1995.
Mohamed's son Dodi dated Princess Diana in 1997 for a few months.
According to the Washington Post, Diana and Dodi reportedly began their romance aboard Mohamed's yacht in 1997, and the two were soon discussing engagement. The burgeoning relationship is the focus of "The Crown" season six, part one.
"They shared an attitude toward the Establishment and the royal family, a distaste for what Diana would call 'the firm,' the people who surround the royals," Max Clifford, a friend and political ally of Mohamed, told the Washington Post in 1997.
Dodi was in the car with Princess Diana during the fatal crash inside a tunnel in Paris in 1997.
The two were leaving the Ritz Paris after dining there that evening in late August 1997, the AP reported. They were being pursued by paparazzi from the hotel to the car's final location, the Alma Tunnel, where the crash occurred.
Mohamed said that Dodi and Diana's deaths were the result of racism and murder.
The crash led to several conspiracy theories, some of which included that the couple were murdered.
Mohamed submitted a videotaped statement requesting American intervention in the resulting investigations in 2001, ABC News reported.
"I seek the support of the American people to bring pressure through the members of Congress to release the documents that will reveal the truth about the tragedy. I am in no doubt that the death was the result of a murder with racism at the core," he said in the tape according to ABC News.
When the official findings were published by French authorities, he hired his own investigators and publicly appealed the reports, according to Vanity Fair.
"I will never be able to reconcile myself to the needless and cruel deaths of two people who were so vibrant, generous, and full of life," Mohamed said in a prepared statement published by the Washington Post in 1997. "God took their souls to live together in paradise. Now they have peace."
Mohamed Al-Fayed died in August 2023.
Mohamed died on August 30, 2023, The New York Times reported on September 1. His death occurred nearly 26 years to the day of his son Dodi's death. He was 94 years old.
As reported by CNN, his family confirmed his death in a statement released by Fulham Football Club, which he'd bought in 1997.
"Mrs. Mohamed Al-Fayed, her children and grandchildren wish to confirm that her beloved husband, their father and their grandfather, Mohamed, has passed away peacefully of old age on Wednesday August 30, 2023," the statement read.
Mohamed Al-Fayed's former spokesperson has denied that Mohamed orchestrated Diana and Dodi's romance, as "The Crown" implies.
After the premiere of "The Crown" season six part one on November 16, Cole, Mohamed's former spokesperson and one-time director of public relations at Harrods, told Deadline that "The Crown" invented the idea that Mohamed had manipulated Dodi's involvement with Diana.
"Netflix and the production company describe 'The Crown' as 'dramatized fiction' and I am not going to disagree with that characterization. That means it is made up," Cole said, also calling the implication that Mohamed had engineered the relationship "total nonsense."
"Mohamed was a remarkable man in many ways. He was delighted that his eldest son and his family's dear friend Diana were together," he told Deadline. "But making two people fall in love with each other? That was beyond even his great talents."
Cole also told Deadline he believed the late Mohamed would've had "quite a lot to say" about how Dodi and Diana's relationship was depicted by "The Crown," which also implies that Mohamed had a hand in commissioning the famous paparazzi photos that made the romance tabloid fodder.
Netflix didn't respond to Deadline's request for comment.
Read the original article on Insider