LONDON: Mohamed al-Fayed, the self-made Egyptian billionaire who purchased the Harrods division retailer and promoted the discredited conspiracy theory that the British royal family was behind the death of his son and Princess Diana, has died, his household mentioned.
Born within the Egyptian metropolis of Alexandria, al-Fayed started his profession promoting fizzy drinks after which labored as a sewing-machine salesman. He constructed his household’s fortune in actual property, delivery and building, first within the Center East after which in Europe.
Though al-Fayed owned institution symbols reminiscent of Harrods, Fulham and the Ritz resort in Paris, he was all the time an outsider in Britain, tolerated however not embraced.
He fell out with the British authorities over its refusal to grant him citizenship of the nation that was his dwelling for many years, and sometimes threatened to maneuver to France, which gave him the Legion of Honour, its highest civilian award.
Al-Fayed – who might be charming, autocratic, vindictive, and at occasions wildly outspoken – spent 10 years trying to prove Diana and his son Dodi were murdered when their car crashed in a road tunnel in Paris in 1997 as they tried to outrun paparazzi photographers on motorbikes.
Unsupported by any proof, in accordance with the inquest into Diana’s demise, he claimed that she was bearing Dodi’s little one and accused Prince Philip, the queen’s husband, of ordering Britain’s safety companies to kill her to cease her marrying a Muslim and having his child.
Al-Fayed died on Wednesday, his household mentioned, a day earlier than the twenty sixth anniversary of Dodi and Diana’s demise.
“Mrs Mohamed Al Fayed, her kids and grandchildren want to verify that her beloved husband, their father and their grandfather, Mohamed, has handed away peacefully of outdated age,” the household assertion learn.
Whereas al-Fayed was identified for self-invention, exaggeration, and boasting, he was additionally a central determine in key moments in Britain’s current historical past.
His rancorous takeover of Harrods in 1985 sparked one among Britain’s most bitter enterprise feuds, whereas in 1994 he precipitated a scandal with the disclosure that he had paid politicians to ask questions on his behalf in parliament.
Like many billionaires, al-Fayed spurned conference. He as soon as mentioned he needed to be mummified in a golden sarcophagus in a glass pyramid on the roof of Harrods.
On the retailer, the place he instituted a gown code – even for purchasers – which he enforced in particular person, he put in a kitsch bronze memorial statue of Diana and Dodi dancing beneath the wings of an albatross.
Because the proprietor of English soccer membership Fulham, he erected a larger-than-life, sequined statue of Michael Jackson outdoors the bottom though the singer solely attended one match. When individuals complained, he mentioned: “If some silly followers do not perceive or respect such a present, they will go to hell.”