Dubai royal's wife launches legal battle to prevent children being forced into marriage

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By Associated Press  with NBC News World News
Image: Princess Haya Bint al-Hussein of Jordan, right, accompanied by her l
Princess Haya Bint al-Hussein of Jordan, right, accompanied by her lawyer lawyer Fiona Shackleton, leaves the High Court in London on Tuesday.   -   Copyright  TOLGA AKMEN

LONDON — The estranged wife of Dubai's ruler applied for protective orders in a British court Tuesday using laws intended to safeguard victims of forced marriages and domestic abuse, while the sheikh's lawyers requested that their two children be quickly returned to Dubai.

Sheikh Mohammed and Princess Haya stand on stage during the opening of the World Government Summit in Dubai Feb. 11, 2018.
Sheikh Mohammed and Princess Haya stand on stage during the opening of the World Government Summit in Dubai Feb. 11, 2018.KARIM SAHIB

Princess Haya, 45, asked for a forced marriage protection order and a non-molestation order during a British High Court hearing that centered on the welfare of her two children with Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. The forced marriage protection order applied to the children.

She asked for wardship of the children during the preliminary hearing. The names and ages of the children are not allowed to be published under British law.

Princess Haya, who is Sheikh Mohammed's sixth wife and the daughter of the late King Hussein of Jordan, reportedly fled Dubai earlier this year.

Family court Judge Andrew McFarlane rejected a request from Sheikh Mohammed's lawyers to have details about the protective orders subject to reporting restrictions.

"There is a public interest in the public understanding, in very broad terms, proceedings that are before the court," he said.

The clash between Sheikh Mohammed and Princess Haya is the latest sign of trouble in Dubai's ruling family. Last year, a daughter of Sheikh Mohammed tried to flee Dubai after appearing in a 40-minute video saying she had been imprisoned.

Sheikh Mohammed, who turned 70 earlier this month, is also the founder of the successful Godolphin horse racing stable and last month received a trophy from Queen Elizabeth II after one of his horses won a race at Royal Ascot.

He was not present at the hearing Tuesday.