By Danica Kirka, Cara Rubinsky and Jill Lawless | Associated Press
LONDON — Mohamed Al Fayed, former owner of the famed Harrods department store in London whose son was killed in a car crash with Princess Diana, has died, his family saidx Friday. He was 94.
Al Fayed, a self-made Egyptian businessman who also once owned the Fulham Football Club, was devastated by the death of son Dodi Fayed in the car crash in Paris with Princess Diana 26 years ago. He spent the rest of his life mourning the loss and fighting the British establishment he blamed for their deaths.
“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,″ his family said in a statement released by the Fulham club. “He enjoyed a long and fulfilled retirement surrounded by his loved ones.″
Al Fayed was convinced that Dodi and Diana were killed in a conspiracy masterminded by Prince Philip, the husband of Queen Elizabeth II. He maintained the royal family arranged the accident because they did not like Diana dating an Egyptian.
Al Fayed claimed that Diana was pregnant and planning to marry Dodi and that the royal family could not countenance the princess marrying a Muslim.
In 2008, Al Fayed told an inquest the list of alleged conspirators included Philip, then-Prince Charles, former Prime Minister Tony Blair, Diana’s sister Sarah McCorquodale, two former London police chiefs and the CIA.
The inquest concluded that Diana and Dodi died because of the reckless actions of their driver and paparazzi chasing the couple.
His relationship with the royal family was depicted the fifth season of “The Crown” last year.
Born Jan. 27, 1929, in Alexandria, Egypt, Al Fayed was the son of a school inspector who began his business career with interests in shipping. He moved to Britain in the 1960s to set about building an empire.
Al-Fayed forced his way into London’s high society by purchasing a number of lavish establishments after arriving in the UK in the 1970s, and also owned the storied Ritz Hotel in Paris for four decades.
He seemed to thrive on the limelight. Al Fayed hit the headlines in the 1980s as he battled with rival tycoon “Tiny” Rowland over control of the House of Fraser group, which included Harrods.
Al Fayed and his brother bought a 30% stake in House Of Fraser from Rowland in 1984, and took control of Harrods for 615 million pounds the following year. That transaction put him in conflict with British authorities. The Department of Trade and Industry investigation into the purchase found that the brothers had “dishonestly misrepresented their origins, their wealth, their business interests and their resources.”
Al Fayed was also a key player in the “cash for questions” scandal that roiled British politics in the 1990s.
Al Fayed was sued for libel a British lawmaker, Neil Hamilton, after the businessman claimed he had given Hamilton envelopes of cash and a lavish stay at the Ritz in Paris, in return for asking questions in the House of Commons.
Hamilton’s lawyer, Desmond Browne, claimed the allegation was fantasy, saying: ″If there were Olympic medals for lying, Mr. Fayed would be a prime contender for a gold one.”
The jury found in Al Fayed’s favor in December 1999.
Al Fayed applied for British citizenship, but his application was rejected in both 1995 and 1998.
Al-Fayed was questioned by police in 2008 in relation to a sex assault allegation that he denied, a Harrods spokesperson said at the time. He eventually sold the store to the Qatari royal family in 2010, for a reported $2.25 billion.
The Sunday Times Rich List, which documents the fortunes of Britain’s wealthiest people, put the family’s fortune at 1.7 billion pounds ($2.1 billion) this year, making Al Fayed the 104th richest person in Britain.
The tycoon also became a major player in the world’s most popular sport, purchasing London’s oldest football club, Fulham, when they were languishing in England’s lower leagues.
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At times he could barely resist his showy and opulent tendencies – such as when he erected a golden statue of Michael Jackson at Fulham’s Craven Cottage stadium, a tribute to his pop superstar friend.
But the team’s fans remain grateful for the financial investments that drove the side from the doldrums of the English game into the Premier League and a major European final; the tycoon’s name is still sung weekly on the terraces at Fulham matches, at least 10 years after he sold the club.
Al-Fayed had six children, including Dodi and the environmentalist entrepreneur Omar Fayed.
CNN Wire Services contributed to this report.