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Former Harrods owner Mohamed Al Fayed dies at 94 - WWAYTV3

Mohamed Al Fayed, the flamboyant businessman and father of Dodi Fayed who died with Princess Diana, passed away at 94.

Mohamed Al Fayed, a prominent businessman originally from Egypt, has passed away at the age of 94, according to a statement released by his family. Al Fayed, known for his ownership of Harrods department store and the Fulham Football Club, experienced immense grief following the tragic car crash that claimed the life of his son, Dodi Fayed, and Princess Diana 26 years ago. He spent years mourning their loss and actively fought against what he believed to be the British establishment's involvement in their deaths.

Al Fayed firmly believed that Prince Philip, the husband of Queen Elizabeth II, orchestrated a conspiracy to cause the accident due to his disapproval of Diana's relationship with an Egyptian. Al Fayed claimed that Diana was pregnant with Dodi's child and that the royal family could not accept the idea of her marrying a Muslim. During an inquest in 2008, Al Fayed named Prince Philip, two former London police chiefs, and the CIA as alleged conspirators.

However, both the inquest and separate inquiries conducted in the UK and France concluded that the car crash was a result of the reckless actions of the driver, who was an employee of the Ritz Hotel owned by Al Fayed, as well as the paparazzi who were chasing the couple. These investigations found no evidence to support Al Fayed's conspiracy theories.

Al Fayed's complex relationship with the royal family was recently portrayed in the fifth season of the popular TV series "The Crown," where he was depicted by Salim Daw and shown developing a connection with Diana. Born in Alexandria, Egypt on January 27, 1929, Al Fayed moved to Britain in the 1960s after making early investments in shipping in Italy and the Middle East. He then embarked on building his business empire.

At the height of his success, Al Fayed owned the Ritz hotel in Paris, the Fulham soccer team in London, and the prestigious Harrods department store in Knightsbridge. The Sunday Times Rich List estimated the family's fortune to be £1.7 billion ($2.1 billion) this year, ranking Al Fayed as the 104th richest person in the UK.

Al Fayed gained public attention in the 1980s when he engaged in a high-profile battle with rival tycoon "Tiny" Rowland for control of the House of Fraser group, which included Harrods. Despite controversy surrounding the deal, which prompted an investigation by the Department of Trade and Industry, Al Fayed and his brother successfully acquired the company.

The businessman was also involved in the "cash for questions" scandal that rocked British politics in the 1990s. He faced a libel lawsuit from British lawmaker Neil Hamilton, who accused Al Fayed of bribing him with cash and luxurious accommodations in exchange for asking questions in the House of Commons. However, a jury ruled in Al Fayed's favor in 1999.

Despite his accomplishments, Al Fayed faced rejection from the British establishment. His applications for citizenship were twice denied by the government, although the specific reasons for these rejections were never made public.

In 1997, Al Fayed purchased the underdog London soccer team Fulham and invested heavily in improving its performance through the acquisition of top-tier coaches and players. His efforts paid off when the club achieved promotion to the Premier League in 2001.

Al Fayed's circle of friends extended beyond the business and sports worlds. He was close with the late pop star Michael Jackson and even commissioned a statue of Jackson to be placed outside Fulham's London stadium in 2011. However, the statue was removed in 2013 by Al Fayed's successor as team owner, Shahid Khan, as it was not well-received by Fulham fans.

Mohamed Al Fayed leaves behind a legacy of business success, controversy, and unyielding determination in seeking justice for his son and Princess Diana. His passing marks the end of an era for both the Al Fayed family and the British business landscape.

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