Dubai's Princess Haya applies for order in London to protect child from forced marriage

Princess Haya has two children with her husband, the ruler of Dubai.

July 31, 2019, 8:11 AM

LONDON -- Princess Haya, the sixth wife of the ruler of Dubai, was seen outside the High Court in London on the first day of a secretive court case as she applied for a protective order to prevent one of her children from being forced into marriage.

The dispute between Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai, and his wife, Princess Haya, has been the subject of intense media speculation in recent weeks, after it was reported she was in "hiding" in London at the beginning of July, allegedly in "fear of her life."

Princess Haya, who was seen entering and leaving the court Tuesday, asked for a non-molestation order and a forced marriage protection order for her children, who cannot be named for legal reasons, according to British media .

The aim of a forced marriage protection order is to protect someone who has been forced into, or is in the process of being forced into, a marriage. A forced marriage is defined under British laws as "a marriage that takes place without the full and free consent of both parties," with the term "force" including physical, emotional or psychological abuse.

PHOTO: Princess Haya bint Al Hussein, the wife of Dubai's Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, arrives at Royal Courts of Justice in London, July 31, 2019.
Princess Haya bint Al Hussein, the wife of Dubai's Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, arrives at Royal Courts of Justice in London, July 31, 2019.
Toby Melville/Reuters

In U.K. family law, a non-molestation order is designed to prevent individuals or their children from being abused. If a non-molestation order is breached, this can result in a criminal offense.

Sheikh Mohammed, who did not attend the court hearing, is seeking the return of his two children to Dubai. He is estimated to have a net worth in excess of $4 billion, according to Forbes, and his representatives declined to comment to ABC News.

Reporters from foreign media outlets were not granted access inside the Tuesday court hearing, although British outlets were allowed to attend. However, the president of the Family Division of the High Court denied the sheikh's request to have details about the protection orders not be reported by the attending British media.

"There is a public interest in the public understanding, in very broad terms, proceedings that are before the court," Andrew Macfarlane, the presiding judge over the case, said, according to the Associated Press.

Despite reports in recent weeks the upcoming court case is a divorce, the U.K.'s judicial press office, with the agreement of the couple and the president of the Family Division of the High Court, issued a statement earlier this month saying the case strictly concerned the "welfare of the two children."

That has not stopped the husband and wife from hiring two of the U.K.'s foremost divorce lawyers, however.

PHOTO: Princess Haya of Jordan and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum attend Ladies Day at the Investec Derby Festival horse racing meeting at Epsom Downs on June 1, 2012, in Epsom, England.
Princess Haya of Jordan and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum attend Ladies Day at the Investec Derby Festival horse racing meeting at Epsom Downs on June 1, 2012, in Epsom, England.
Max Mumby/indigo/Getty Images, FILE

Sheikh Mohammed is being represented by Helen Ward, who represented Guy Ritchie in his divorce from Madonna, while Princess Haya's legal team is being led by Fiona Shackleton, who represented Prince Charles in his divorce from Princess Diana.

Princess Haya allegedly fled Dubai after discovering "disturbing facts" regarding the return of her stepdaughter, Princess Latifa, following Latifa's alleged escape attempt from Dubai in 2018, the BBC reported. She allegedly fled with her children earlier this year, according to reports.

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events