The romance between Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed is set to take centre stage on The Crown season six, but many viewers may be unaware that Dodi was dating a model who claimed they were “engaged” when he met the royal.
Netflix’s historical drama is returning for its final outing in November, with season six to be released in two parts before Christmas. It centres on the late 1990s to mid-2000s, and features the blossoming romance between the late Princess Diana (Elizabeth Debicki) and Dodi Fayed (Khalid Abdalla), the son of Harrods owner Mohamed Al Fayed.
It was Mohamed who planned for Diana, then 36, and Dodi, then 42, to date, and took them both on a holiday on one of his yachts in the summer of 1997. However, his son was already engaged to someone else – although the public didn’t know about the relationship until it was over.
Just months before he and Diana met, film producer Dodi had been engaged to model Kelly Fisher (played by Erin Richards in The Crown). Born in Kentucky, Fisher later relocated to Ontario, Canada, with her family, where she began modelling aged 16.
She attended college for two semester before dropping out to focus on modelling full time. Fisher modelled for brands such as Victoria’s Secret, Armani and Calvin Klein, and appeared on the covers of publications such as Elle, Marie Claire, and W.
It was July 1996 when Fisher met Dodi in Paris. The pair dated for eight months before they allegedly got engaged in February 1997, with Dodi proposing with a sapphire and diamond ring.
Following the couple’s reported engagement, Dodi allegedly told Fisher that he’d bought a house in an exclusive Malibu neighbourhood for him and Fisher to live in using money from his father.
Khalid Abdalla and Elizabeth Debicki in ‘The Crown’
But mere months later, in August 1997, Dodi was photographed kissing Diana on his father’s yacht, the pictures splashed on The Sunday Mirror’s front page and seen across the world.
Mohamed had invited Diana and the young princes William and Harry to join his family on a trip to St Tropez, with historian Katie Nicholl claiming that “his ulterior motive was to play Cupid between the princess and his eldest son, Dodi”.
Humiliated and emotional, Fisher, who was 31 at the time, held a press conference in Beverly Hills, California. Here, it was announced that she was filing a breach-of-contract lawsuit against Dodi. She claimed that Dodi wanted Fisher to “put her career in second place behind him and to spend more time with him and less on her modelling career”, and had offered her half a million dollars to spend more time with him. Instead, she claimed, she received $60,000 and a cheque for $200,000, which bounced.
Accompanied by top lawyer Gloria Allred, she claimed that Dodi had brought her the ring, and had promised to buy her a house too. After Dodi’s death, Fisher claimed that she and Dodi had been due to marry that very month. The Fayed family denied that Dodi had asked Fisher to marry him.
Fisher (left) with Gloria Allred
Reading a prepared statement, Allred claimed that Dodi “led [Fisher] emotionally all the way up to the altar and abandoned her when they were almost there. He threw her love away in a callous way with no regard for her whatsoever”.
It was claimed that Fisher wasn’t told about the kiss by Dodi, but learnt when photos of the pair kissing were “published and circulated around the world to Miss Fisher’s utter dismay, shock and shame”.
At the time, Fisher had reportedly been staying on another yacht owned by the Fayed family, and was told not to contact Dodi again when she reached out to him.
However, Allred claimed that Fisher was only making her claim public “because we care about Princess Diana and her future. We would like the Princess, who has suffered greatly in the past, to know about Miss Fisher’s experiences with Mr Fayed so she can make an informed decision regarding her future and that of her children.”
Fisher sold her story to Rupert Murdoch’s newspaper group for an estimated £200,000, where her side of the story was told in the News of the World and The Sun.
Fisher pictured in 2007 after giving evidence for the inquest into the deaths of Dodi and Diana
On 31 August, just weeks later, Diana and Dodi died in a car crash in Paris. Shortly after, Fisher announced that she was dropping the lawsuit against Dodi. However, it was insisted that Fisher did not regret filing the lawsuit.
Allred announced in a statement that Fisher had “voluntarily chosen” to dismiss the case “out of respect for the tragedy, and tremendous loss the Fayed family has suffered”.
“Kelly loved Dodi very much, and she is devastated by his loss, and that of Princess Diana,” she said. “Nothing is more important than the life of a human being. In the light of this enormous tragedy, Kelly forgives Dodi for all of his past injustices against her.”
In 2007, Fisher gave evidence for the inquest into the deaths of Dodi and Diana. The following year, transcripts of calls between Fisher and Dayed, in which she accused him of “two-timing”, were made public.
“You even flew me down to St Tropez to sit on a boat while you seduced Diana all day and f***ed me all night,” she said, saying in another call: “We were together the whole time. And you knew it.” The transcripts show Dodi trying to end the call, branding Fisher “hysterical” and insisting that they were broken up when he was dating Diana.
The Crown season six part one arrives on Netflix on 16 November, with part two following on 14 December.