The sixth wife of the billionaire ruler of Dubai has applied to a London court for a forced marriage protection order, the UK’s Press Association news agency reported Tuesday.
Princess Haya bint al-Hussein appeared in a central London court for the first day of the high-profile legal battle with Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, following weeks of media speculation about her whereabouts.
According to PA, the judge allowed the media to report limited details of the case. In addition to the forced marriage protection order, the princess also asked for wardship of the couple’s two children and a non-molestation order for herself.
Sheikh Mohammed, who has asked for his children to return to Dubai where he lives, was not present in court. CNN has asked his representative for comment.
The details of the protection order sought by Princess Haya are not known. A forced marriage protection order can be made under English law to protect a person from being forced into a marriage or help someone already in forced marriage, for example by preventing the person from being taken abroad.
The sheikh and the princess issued a statement earlier this month confirming they were parties at the hearing at the Family Division of the High Court, according to the Press Association.
“These proceedings are concerned with the welfare of the two children of their marriage and do not concern divorce or finances,” read the statement.
Tuesday’s proceedings were subject to heavy reporting restrictions, and CNN and other international media were not allowed into the courtroom.
However, an application by Sheikh Mohammed’s lawyers for further reporting restrictions was rejected by the court. The President of the court’s Family Division, Sir Andrew McFarlane, said, “there is a public interest in the public understanding, in very broad terms, proceedings that are before the court,” according to PA.
Reports have been swirling in British media for weeks about the collapsed royal marriage after the princess reportedly left her husband and traveled to London.
She is the third female family member of Sheikh Mohammed’s court to leave the UAE after two of his daughters — from another marriage — previously attempted to.
Princess Haya, the daughter of the late King Hussein of Jordan and the half-sister of the King of Jordan, is a well-known international figure. She is close friends with the heir to the British throne, Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall.
The princess studied Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Oxford and is a keen equestrian, representing Jordan at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney
Sheikh Mohammed, who is 70, is the vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates and ruler of Dubai.