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Al Fayed ordered me to oust Dodi from his leopard skin festooned office … I demurred

In my most recent Jottings on the late Mohamed Fayed I promised to turn my attention to Dodi, the son he has now joined in the mausoleum in the many acres of his home near Oxted, Surrey, just down the hill from my former (slightly smaller) place in the village of Tatsfield.


During my dalliance with the old bugger I had just taken possession of the empty first floor above Harrods Estates in Brompton Road, ‘opposite the shop.’ Empty that is apart from a small office at one end, garishly furnished with leopard skin rugs and all walls festooned with film posters, notably those for Chariots of Fire, the brilliant 1981 film produced by Mohamed’s Enigma Films.


It won four Oscars including Best Film and Best Director, Hugh Hudson. Dodi was on the credits as executive producer as is customary for those who provided the money. The trouble was, Dodi was providing more than the dosh; he was handing out wraps of cocaine to whoever on the crew was interested. ‘And the award for Best Dealer goes to…’


David Puttnam the producer wasn’t  pleased. He was already unhappy with Dodi’s constant presence on the set and this was the final straw. Fayed junior was out, never to return, and there was nothing his father could do about it. 


Not that Mohamed wanted to. Dodi’s involvement in the film was because, his father reckoned, he needed something to do. The truth is, father thought son an ocean-going problem, the rich kid wasting his time and his allowance. Until poor innocent, gullible, troubled Diana provided the golden opportunity.


Mohamed saw it as his chance to win his way into the Royal Family, get British citizenship, and if all that failed, which of course it did, then Plan B was to ruin them, accusing Prince Philip of planning murder. But the truth is, until Diana came along Dodi was a constant pain for his father.

 

When I was about to move into my new first-floor quarters Mohamed told me to evict Dodi from his bijou little office. ‘No, I don’t need the space and besides he’s rarely there,’ I told him. In fact my most recent sighting of him had been on a particularly hot day when he came in wearing a full length fur coat (and no, it wasn’t some Islamic fancy dress festival.)


Mohamed persisted: ‘Just tell him to fug off.’ ‘Look Mohamed, he’s your son, I can’t do that, you have to tell him yourself.’ 


It was standoff and totally unnecessary as I didn’t need even the space. In the end the problem was given to the Harrods housekeeper, not as lowly a role as it sounds. She was a fearsome German woman, the sort you might see in a black and white WW2 film, and she scared the hell out of me. Dodi too apparently, because within a couple of days the office was empty, posters, leopard skins and all.


I had little contact with Dodi but I met Diana on several occasions and one thing was blindingly obvious: this was no love match. But it suited Diana to embarrass the family she married into (understandable you might think) and it gave father and son Fayed the headlines they craved. If it hadn’t ended so tragically, it would not have lasted beyond that summer when the princess woke up to the realities of life with the Fayeds.


And of those realities it was the needless, reckless urge for speed. Twice I flew into Paris with Mohamed and the journey from Orly airport to the Ritz in heavy Parisian traffic was heart-stoppingly frightening. The convoy of four black Mercedes more or less glued to themselves and carving aside hapless Renaults and Citroens was unnecessary and very dangerous,

As of course the events of the last day of August 1997 in the Alma Tunnel proved so tragically.  


8th August 2023