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Al Fayed was no victim of the establishment

Mohamed Al Fayed with Queen Elizabeth at the 1997 Royal Windsor Horse Show. Tim Graham/Getty

Mohamed Al Fayed, who died last week aged 94, always portrayed himself as the “unjustly persecuted victim of British snobbery and racism”, says Dominic Lawson in the Daily Mail. The Egyptian-born businessman complained that the “establishment” never gave him the respect he deserved – “or, indeed, a British passport”. He infamously claimed that his son Dodi and Princess Diana were assassinated by MI6, on the orders of Prince Philip, because she was pregnant and wanted to marry Dodi. It was “one big, lurid lie”: a conspiracy theory to deflect attention from the fact that the couple died because they had been “driven at insane speed by an inebriated Fayed employee”.

Al Fayed claimed he wasn’t interested in high society. “I love the masses and the people,” he said. “I don’t care about those bastards.” In reality, he was obsessed with the “highest levels of aristocracy”. He invented the “Al” in his name to give him an air of “high breeding” (like “von” in Germany). He sponsored the Royal Windsor Horse show, often sitting next to the Queen. As the owner of Harrods – “not a shop you would naturally associate with ‘the masses’” – he kept the Duke of Edinburgh’s Royal Warrant until 2000, two years after he began accusing Philip of murdering his son. And what power he gained, he exploited for his own unpleasant ends – in 2017 several former employees accused him of preying on them at Harrods. Al Fayed was no “man of the people”. He “was obsessed with status and wealth, and abused both, wickedly”.