After introducing the turbulent marriage of Diana and Charles, The Crown delves Diana’s romance with Dodi Fayed (Khalid Abdalla) in seasons 5 and 6. Diana met Fayed, whose billionaire father Mohamed owned the department store Harrods, only weeks before they died together in a Paris car crash, but the short time they spent together was a source of media fascination. Dodi was born in Egypt and attended schools in Switzerland and the U.K. His mother, Samira Khashoggi, was the sister of Saudi arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi. In the ’80s and ’90s he executive produced movies like Chariots of Fire and The Scarlet Letter and was photographed socializing with Brooke Shields and Julia Roberts.
For context, here’s how their brief but well-publicized relationship played out.
Dodi played against Prince Charles in a polo match in Windsor, The Independent later reported, where he and Diana potentially first met.
December 9, 1992
Prime Minister John Major told the House of Commons that Prince and Princess of Wales would be separating, reading a statement from the Royal Family. “It is announced from Buckingham Palace that, with regret, the Prince and Princess of Wales have decided to separate. Their Royal Highnesses have no plans to divorce and their constitutional positions are unaffected. This decision has been reached amicably, and they will both continue to participate fully in the upbringing of their children,” it read. “The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, though saddened, understand and sympathize with the difficulties that have led to this decision.”
It was announced that Diana would live at Kensington Palace while Charles would reside at his home Highgrove in Gloucestershire and at Clarence House in London and that custody of their children would be shared.
August 28, 1996
Charles and Diana formally divorced, with an agreement that allowed her to continue to live at Kensington Palace and retain the title Princess of Wales, while giving up the designation Her Royal Highness. She received a settlement reported to be worth at least $22.5 million.
“I think like any marriage, specially when you’ve had divorced parents like myself, you’d want to try even harder to make it work and you don’t want to fall back into a pattern that you’ve seen happen in your own family,” she said, in a 1995 interview with the BBC.
Mohamed Al-Fayed invited Diana, William, and Harry for a vacation in St. Tropez, where he had a 4-acre estate. “With money no object, [he] had purchased the Jonikal, a luxury £15-million yacht, as soon as Diana had accepted his invitation to join his family in St. Tropez. It was Mohamed’s way of safeguarding his royal guests and ensuring they had maximum privacy; his ulterior motive was to play Cupid between the princess and his eldest son, Dodi,” wrote Katie Nicholl in her 2010 book William and Harry: Behind the Palace Walls.
Fayed also invited Dodi, who had purchased a Malibu home in June and was in a relationship (and possibly an engagement) with the model Kelly Fisher, Vanity Fair reported. Many believe that this trip was where Diana and Dodi became close.
Vanity Fair reported that Diana took another trip on the Jonikal while her sons spent the month in Scotland, at the royal residence Balmoral. A paparazzi photograph of Dodi and Diana kissing ran in the Sunday Mirror. That same month, Fisher, represented by Gloria Allred, sued Dodi for breach of contract.
August 30-31, 1997
While visiting Paris, Diana and Dodi had dinner at the Ritz, which was owned by his father.
During that trip, Dodi bought what was believed to be an engagement ring the day before the accident, but was never able to give it to her, according to an inquest in 2007. It was from the Repossi jeweler in Paris and featured the inscription “Dis-moi Oui” (French for “Tell me Yes”).
After leaving the Ritz, the pair, along with his driver Henri Paul, are killed in a car crash in the Pont de l’Alma in the early hours of the 31st.
Adrienne Gaffney is the features editor at ELLE and previously worked at WSJ Magazine and Vanity Fair.