£5m a year on holidays and £14m for jewellery – unpacking Britain’s biggest divorce settlement

The bitter and acrimonious divorce between the Jordanian princess and the ruler of Dubai has offered an astonishing insight into the lives of super-rich royals. 

For the past few months, Mr Justice Philip Moor has listened as eye-watering sums of money have been fought over as part of the multi-million pound settlement meant to secure a “clean break” between Princess Haya and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. 

The 65-page ruling offers a tantalising glimpse into the lifestyle that the vast majority of people can only dream about.

The judge noted how the “opulent and unprecedented standard of living enjoyed” by the princess and her children in Dubai made his settlement appear “entirely out of the ordinary”.

Kensington residence

The princess bought her west London home near Kensington Palace in 2016 for £87.5 million. It is now worth about £100 million.

It was refurbished in 2017-18 at a cost of £14.7 million, which included £9.3 million for structural work and £2.8 million for fixtures and fittings.

The princess asked for £1 million a year towards a 10-year refurbishment, and for the sheikh to cover the costs of five housekeepers and a handyman, as well as a £223,000-a-year contract with a property maintenance company.

She also wanted £900,000 a year for wear and tear, such as new curtains, carpets and replacement furniture, as well as £100,000 to cover cleaning products, dry cleaning and appliances.

“We always kept it to a very high standard and that is the amount of people needed to keep it as it is now,” the princess told the court.

The judge agreed to the £10 million refurbishment, £500,000 for wear and tear and £223,000 for the maintenance costs. He also allowed £1,912,254 to pay for a pizza oven, kitchen extension and curtains. 

Castlewood

Castlewood House, the property left to Princess Haya by her father, the late King Hussein of Jordan

Credit: Google Earth

The princess asked for the sheikh to pay for the upkeep of her Castlewood mansion in Berkshire which had been left to her by her father, the late King Hussein of Jordan.

She wanted £770,000 a year for maintenance, and to cover the costs of two estate managers and three housekeepers. Over 10 years, that equated to £7.7 million on a house worth only £4.5 million, the court heard.

The judge awarded her running costs in full, £125,000 annually for wear and tear and £200,000 per year towards a 10-year refurbishment.

Horses

Princess Haya and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum at the 2013 Epsom Derby

Credit: Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA-EFE/REX

As a couple, the sheikh and Princess Haya were seen regularly at some of England’s most high-profile racing events. He founded the Godolphin stables and became a friend of the Queen due to their shared passion for horse racing. 

During the finance hearings at the High Court, the princess said: “If I wanted a horse, I bought one.”

She claimed more than 400 racehorses had run in her name, including the Epsom Derby winner New Approach. She insisted that either she or her children remained the registered owners of such horses, and so sought £75 million in compensation for those that still belonged to her.

However, the sheikh, one of the world’s most influential horse breeders, insisted all the horses she had claimed had run in her colours but essentially belonged to Godolphin.

Sheikh Mohammed’s lawyers said the list of her claims for racehorses had grown from 16 to 62, adding how some of them had died or been sold on. 

In a statement to the court, he said that the princess had never received any winnings from her horses. While she claimed a £15 million payment given to her by the sheikh in March 2018 after the Dubai World Cup was prize money, he insisted it was merely a payment for her having done a good job in organising his guests.

“He said it’s my money, these are my horses, you are my wife and you should have it,” the princess told the court. “It was an incredibly generous thing for Sheikh Mohammed to do.”

Mr Justice Moor ruled in the sheikh’s favour, noting “it is obvious that the horses were part of Godolphin” because the stable paid for their upkeep and kept the winnings and stud fees. He agreed that the £15 million was a gift.

Princess Haya with the Queen at The Windsor Horse Show in 2019

Credit: Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images

Holidays and leisure

As royalty, the princess and her children became accustomed to the most lavish holidays, invariably travelling by private jet or touring on private yachts.

During her marriage, the family spent £631,000 on one summer holiday in Italy and then £233,000 for a hotel in Greece, the judge noted in his ruling. 

He granted the princess’s request for the sheikh to pay for her and the children to have nine weeks of holidays abroad each year and two further weeks holiday in Britain. A further three weekends in Jordan and three weekends in Britain were also expected to be paid for by the sheikh.

The judge said he had to decide “what is reasonable whilst remembering that the exceptional wealth and remarkable standard of living enjoyed by these children during the marriage takes this case entirely out of the ordinary”.

The total award for holidays was £5.1 million each year, which included more than £1 million to hire private planes and nearly £1 million for hotels and catering.

The judge awarded her a further £1 million to spend on leisure. He also granted £277,050 a year for spending on pets, including £25,000 to buy horses and £12,000 for toys, grooming, and training of unspecified animals.

Clothing and jewellery

The princess had asked for £52 million as compensation for chattels, items she had left behind in Dubai, such as clothing and jewellery. She estimated that her haute couture collection was worth about £63 million.

Princess Haya claimed that she had left behind much of her jewellery collection, which included diamonds, pearls, sapphires and emeralds. She told the court one diamond set alone including a necklace, ring and earrings worth £1 million. She said they had simply vanished.

“If you put all the pieces in that room spread across this courtroom, it would be full,” she said. “I was spoiled with wonderful gifts which I enjoyed very, very much at the time.”

The judge was shown a 23-minute video of a safe in Dubai being opened by one of the sheikh’s staff. The princess said what was shown left where she had kept her jewellery seemed “pretty standard fare”.

He awarded her £13.7 million for jewellery she had lost and the “relatively modest sum” of £1 million for lost clothes.

Prince Ali

Princess Haya with her brother, Prince Ali bin Hussein

Credit: Jordan’s Prince Ali Al Hussein Twitter page/AFP/Getty Images

The judgment also revealed how the princess had helped fund an unsuccessful campaign by her brother, Prince Ali bin Hussein, to become the president of Fifa in 2016 with the blessing of the sheikh.

She had also paid $5 million (£3.8 million) in 2019 to her brother for the 10-year cost of maintaining his home, Baraka Palace, in Jordan.

“Sheikh Mohammed was very kind to members of my family,” she told the court, adding that she neither wanted her brother to be cut off nor her children to feel obliged to continue making the payments if something were to happen to her. 

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