Dodi Fayed Was Never The Same After He Met Princess Diana

Dodi Fayed was the son of Mohamed Al-Fayed, a wealthy Egyptian businessman and former owner of Harrods department store in London. Fayed's father reportedly wished to be accepted by the major players in British high society, including the royal family. Fayed's connection and ultimate relationship with Princess Diana could also have been regarded as another way the Al-Fayed family could become better acquainted with the royals. 

Sadly, Dodi Fayed and Princess Diana dated for just a few months before their untimely deaths. It's also hard to say exactly what Fayed thought about his romance with Diana and his life in general since, as The Guardian noted, there's no record of Fayed ever giving an official interview. However, there's no doubt that his relationship with Diana profoundly changed his life in just a short amount of time. On top of that, an enduring interest in Diana has led to a renewed look at her relationship with Fayed, including the duo's portrayal on the Netflix series, "The Crown." Fayed was also in the news yet again in August 2023 when the family yacht he used with Diana sank after hitting an object in the Mediterranean Sea. 

To get a better understanding of Fayed, here's a look at all the ways that dating Diana changed his life and legacy.

Before he met Princess Diana, Dodi Fayed was a playboy

Dodi Fayed was born into a wealthy family, but he also had a career of his own as a film producer. He served as executive producer for several movies between the 1980s and 1990s, including "Hook" and "Chariots of Fire." However, Fayed is perhaps best known as being a playboy, a title bestowed upon him by the press due to his extensive relationship history. He was often seen publicly with different celebrities, including Winona Ryder, Brooke Shields, and Julia Roberts. While he was reportedly only interested in famous women, he didn't seem to want any commitments. Rather, he was addicted to getting pictures taken with them by the press, which was more appealing to him than dating them.

However, before meeting Princess Diana, there were two exceptions to the commitment-phobia practiced by Dodi Fayed. First, he was married to Suzanne Gregard, who is best known for her modeling work in the 1980s. The two wed in 1986 but divorced just six months later. Gregard herself has kept a relatively low profile and is thought to be remarried and still living in the U.S.

Dodi Fayed almost got married a second time (before rumors of a possible engagement with Princess Diana emerged). This time, he proposed to another model named Kelly Fisher. Fisher and Fayed were together for about two years, which was considered an unusually long time for Fayed. 

Dodi Fayed's meeting with Princess Diana seemed to garner his father's approval

Before meeting Dodi Fayed, Princess Diana knew his father first. Diana met wealthy patriarch Mohamed Al-Fayed at a polo match in the 1980s and subsequently became close with the princess and her sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, by inviting them aboard his private yacht. Mohamed Al-Fayed, who also had an interest in getting to know the royal family for years, extended the invitation to Diana to help her catch a break from the paparazzi. He was also reportedly hoping that his son and Diana might get along. As The Guardian noted, Dodi Fayed could never seem to gain the approval of his father and may have considered a possible connection with Diana as a way to please him. 

Furthermore, it's thought that Mohamed Al-Fayed considered a possible relationship between his son and Diana as a way to become more respected by British social groups. Part of this had to do with a fallout in British opinion years earlier over possible dishonesty with which the businessman sold Harrods. On top of this planned meeting on Mohamed Al-Fayed's private yacht, he also reportedly helped provide Diana with a security detail.

Dodi Fayed was immediately attracted to Princess Diana, though he was already in a relationship

At first, it seemed that Mohamed Al-Fayed's wishes would come true. Upon meeting on a yacht and subsequently at an Al-Fayed family vacation home in St. Tropez, Dodi Fayed and Princess Diana seemed to hit it off right away. During this vacation, everything seemed to be going smoothly for all parties involved with one major exception: Dodi Fayed's fiancée, Kelly Fisher. The couple had been together for a couple of years, with their marriage reportedly set to take place the same summer Fayed met Diana. 

Nevertheless, Fayed took an interest in Diana, and the feelings appeared to be mutual. According to an archive from the Associated Press, Diana wrote Fayed a note relaying "a million heartfelt thanks" after the vacation, where she said that he had brought "such joy into this chick's life." It was from there that the duo became romantically involved, with Fayed sending Diana gifts and the pair reuniting when Diana's children were staying with their father, as she and King Charles III (then-Prince Charles) were already divorced at this point.

Princess Diana may have regarded Dodi Fayed as a rebound boyfriend

While in France, Princess Diana met Dodi Fayed after her recent breakup with Pakistani surgeon and cardiologist Hasnat Khan in July 1997. As such, it was speculated by some that Diana regarded Fayed as a rebound fling and not the serious relationship that the princess had hoped for with Khan. Biographer Judy Wade told People magazine that Diana "had wanted to marry" Khan, and that "Dodi became Diana's distraction." Wade went on to speculate, "Perhaps Diana wanted to be photographed frolicking with Dodi to make Hasnat pay for their recent rows" as their relationship heated up and gained press attention thanks to an infamous August 1997 Sunday Mirror photograph of their infamous kiss.

It's difficult to know how serious Princess Diana was about Dodi Fayed, and vice-versa. On the one hand, the couple grew fond of each other quickly enough for Fayed to end his engagement to Kelly Fisher. At the same time, Fayed was also reportedly on a quest to please his father for once. As for Diana's intentions, there was also doubt that she would get too serious with a "playboy" so suddenly. As Wade told People magazine, "After knowing Dodi only six weeks, that wasn't enough time for her to decide. The boys were her priority, and she would have consulted them." Unfortunately, we will never know whether Diana was seriously considering a long-term commitment with Fayed, and how such a relationship might have played out. 

Dodi Fayed ended his engagement and was sued for it

Dodi Fayed reportedly got engaged to girlfriend and model Kelly Fisher in 1997, which is the same year he and Princess Diana connected. While the exact details aren't known, it's thought that the engagement ended once the infamous photograph of Diana and Fayed kissing was published in The Sunday Mirror in August 1997, just weeks after the pair met in St. Tropez. Also, Fisher reportedly had no idea about the affair until she saw the Sunday Mirror photograph along with the rest of the world. 

Around the same time, Fayed reportedly ended his engagement to Fisher and even tried to deny that there were plans to marry in the first place. According to The Guardian, a friend of Fayed's, Jack Martin, had said, "They weren't going to get married" and accused Fisher of being "in love with the shopping" and not Fayed himself. Fisher not only had an engagement ring from Fayed, but he also reportedly bought a house in Malibu, California for the two to settle into once they were married.

Kelly Fisher hired renowned attorney Gloria Allred and sued Dodi Fayed for breach of contract, claiming that the relationship had not only caused her emotional distress but was career damaging, too. According to the Independent, Allred said at the time that Fisher had "put her career in second place behind him [Fayed] and to spend more time with him and less on her modeling career."

His reported lifestyle habits garnered increased scrutiny after dating Princess Diana

Dodi Fayed was not only known as being a playboy, but he also had other vices and dangerous lifestyle habits that also stirred up controversy. Among these included his reported drug use, as well as his affinity for spending his parents' money. While such information flew under the radar for many years, Fayed found that dating Princess Diana brought increased media scrutiny of his personal life to the public eye.

One controversy was Fayed's cocaine habit which started in the 1980s. Film director Stan Dragoti told The Guardian that "it was a social thing" and that "cocaine gave Dodi a personality." On top of that, Dodi Fayed's father spent a lot of money trying to get him started in various businesses, but these didn't ever seem to pan out. He also bought a lot of material items in an attempt to gain attention, including the latest vehicles and electronics.

While it's not known how much the increased media attention on his lifestyle habits impacted Fayed personally, there was already speculation from those who knew Diana that Fayed wasn't the right fit for her. According to People magazine, biographer Judy Wade said, "The stories were not very complimentary ... I think Diana enjoyed the excitement, but I don't think she could have coped with that." 

There were rumors Dodi Fayed had intentions to marry Princess Diana

Increased media attention, a broken engagement, and even a lawsuit seemed to not deter Dodi Fayed from continuing to pursue his relationship with Princess Diana. While the couple had only been together for mere weeks, there were signs that things were getting serious. This included a possible engagement. According to the Washington Post, a French jeweler reportedly sold Dodi Fayed and Princess Diana a diamond ring on August 30, 1997. He recalled that the couple had already picked out which ring they wanted ahead of time and were only in the store for about five minutes. At the time, Fayed and Diana also reportedly didn't reveal any information about getting engaged or any upcoming wedding plans.

Unfortunately, we'll never know whether Fayed had plans to propose to Diana and whether they had indeed planned on getting married. Michael Cole, an Al-Fayed family spokesman, had previously denied that Dodi Fayed had intended to marry Diana before later changing his story. According to BBC News, Cole said, "He was a man in love, and there was no doubt about it in my mind" and also that Fayed had given him the impression that he planned on marrying Diana. However, biographer Judy Wade had an entirely different take on the situation, casting doubt that Diana would get that serious with Fayed, per People magazine. 

Dodi Fayed was killed in a high-speed car accident with the paparazzi

Just weeks after Dodi Fayed started dating Princess Diana — and just mere hours after they reportedly bought an engagement ring together — the pair were killed in a high-speed car crash, during which they were being chased by the press. According to People, Fayed and Diana had been on Sardinia, an island in the Mediterranean, before making a last-minute change to visit Paris. Still, the paparazzi had learned they were there. Earlier that same night, Fayed had ordered their driver to speed up in an effort to get away from the paparazzi that had been chasing them, which upset Diana. "She was crying and had been genuinely frightened for her own safety and that of the paparazzi," biographer Judy Wade told People. "It was a chilling portent of what would happen later on that night." 

During the early hours of August 31, 1997, Fayed and Diana found themselves being chased by aggressive paparazzi yet again. Fayed was killed along with Diana in a catastrophic accident in a Parisian tunnel. The driver of their vehicle, Henri Paul, was also killed and was later determined to have been drunk at the time of the accident in addition to going well above the speed limit. 

Dodi Fayed's death was part of a conspiracy theory perpetuated by his father

Today, we now know that the untimely and tragic deaths of Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed were attributed to a combination of unfortunate facts, including aggressive paparazzi and a couple who desperately wanted some alone time. It was also found that driver Henri Paul was going more than 60 miles per hour through the tunnel.

At the time, however, Fayed's father Mohamed Al-Fayed began perpetuating a conspiracy about his son's fatal accident. He claimed the crash wasn't accidental and that the British royal family was complicit in the deaths of his son and Diana. According to Time magazine, he even claimed that Diana may have been pregnant with Dodi's child, which explained their secret engagement. This, Mohamed Al-Fayed claimed, was why the royal family wanted to orchestrate the crash.

None of these claims have been backed up by any evidence. An 832-page report released in 2006 found that actions by both Paul and the paparazzi were likely to blame for the deadly accident. It also stated that Dodi and Diana weren't engaged and that Diana was not pregnant. "There was no conspiracy to murder any of the occupants of that car," BBC News quoted lead investigator Lord Stevens as saying. At the time, Mohamed Al-Fayed said, "Whatever it's going to cost me, if it costs me the last penny in my purse, I'm not going to rest until I get the gangsters."

Dodi Fayed was later portrayed on the hit series The Crown

Public interest in Dodi Fayed's life and his relationship with Princess Diana have undoubtedly been renewed thanks to the hit Netflix series "The Crown." Season 5 focuses on Diana, played by Australian actor Elizabeth Debicki. Dodi Fayed is also portrayed in the season by Scottish actor Khalid Abdalla. He is expected to also play a key role in Season 6 of the popular series, which is reportedly going to cover Diana and Fayed's deaths along with the lives of Princes William and Harry. Debuting in the fall of 2023, this is also reported to be the last season of "The Crown," per People.

While not 100% biographical in nature (it is an entertainment show, after all!), "The Crown" arguably offers a glimpse into the final weeks of Fayed's life. At the same time, Netflix has been criticized for being insensitive with the show's portrayal of the tragic car accident that killed Fayed and Diana. As the Daily Mail reported, friends of Diana argued that the upcoming scene is "insensitive" and "distasteful" due to the portrayal of the paparazzi swarming the car that Henri Paul was driving. "It is such an important part of the story and they have got to show it, but a bit of sensitivity would not go amiss," Andrew Lownie, a royal biographer, told the publication. "There are lots of ways filmmakers can show something without showing it, shall we say."