Who is Dodi Fayed—Princess Diana, 'Chariots of Fire', Kelly and 'The Crown'

As Netflix's hit royal drama The Crown's depiction of key events in the reign of Queen Elizabeth II rapidly approaches the modern day, season five premiered this month showcasing the turbulent early years of the 1990s.

From the fire at Windsor Castle to the breakdown of Prince Charles and Princess Diana's marriage, and the introduction of a host of new characters, this season has proven to be the most dramatic yet.

One character introduced in the early episodes of season five is Dodi Fayed (played by Khalid Abdalla), the "playboy" son of Mohamed Al Fayed who became Diana's boyfriend and would later die with her in a tragic car crash in Paris in 1997.

But who was the real Dodi Fayed? Newsweek answers your questions here.

Dodi Fayed and 'The Crown'
Actor Khalid Abdalla as Dodi Fayed in Netflix's 'The Crown,' 2022, and (inset) Fayed, photographed in 1990. Netflix/Aaron Rapoport/CORBIS OUTLINE/Corbis via Getty Images

Who Was Dodi Fayed?

Dodi Fayed was born in Alexandria, Egypt on April 17, 1955, the son of Mohamed Al Fayed and his first wife Samira Khashoggi.

During Dodi's lifetime, Al Fayed would build his business empire into a global concern, purchasing the Ritz Paris hotel in 1979 and the famous London department store Harrods in the 1980s.

Dodi was a close confidant of his father and was dubbed by the media as a "playboy" during the 1970s and 1980s.

After a short course at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in the U.K., Dodi was offered a commission in the United Arab Emirates air force, later serving as an attaché at the embassy of the United Arab Emirates in London.

Eschewing the family business, Dodi went on to work in the world of entertainment, among other enterprises, producing a number of film projects under the Allied Stars company.

In 1987, Dodi married American model Suzanne Gregard. The couple divorced after eight months.

Dodi and Mohamed Al Fayed 'The Crown'
Actors Khalid Abdalla and Salim Daw as Dodi Fayed and Mohamed Al Fayed in Netflix's royal drama, 'The Crown,' 2022. Dodi Fayed was a close confidant of his father and was dubbed by the media as a "playboy" during the 1970s and 1980s. Netflix

Dodi's Link to Chariots of Fire

The most successful of Dodi's film projects was the 1981 blockbuster Chariots of Fire, which he co-produced.

A British sports drama, the movie tells the story of Jewish athlete Harold Abrahams and his journey to winning a gold medal in the 100-meter dash at the 1924 Olympics in Paris.

The film was a hit with critics and earned seven nominations at the 54th Academy Awards. It went on to win four Oscars, including best screenplay, best costume design and best original score. When the movie won the ultimate accolade of the night—best picture—producer David Puttnam paid special tribute to Dodi and his father who had helped finance the project, saying:

"To Mohamed and Dodi Fayed who came through for us and put their money where my mouth was."

The awards show and Al Fayed's reaction to the win are dramatized in episode three of series 5 of The Crown.

'Chariots of Fire' 1981
Production still from 'Chariots of Fire', 1981. Fayed co-produced the movie which won four Oscars. Stanley Bielecki Movie Collection/Getty Images)

Was Dodi Engaged When He Dated Princess Diana?

Also depicted in The Crown is Dodi's relationship with Kelly Fisher, an American model who grew close to the movie producer in 1996.

Fisher gave evidence as to the nature of her relationship with Dodi during the 2008 inquest into his death alongside Princess Diana.

Fisher and Dodi's relationship began in Paris in July 1996 and, in November of that year, an engagement is alleged to have taken place. The couple was planning to live in Los Angeles after their wedding, prompting the purchase of a home in the city by Dodi on June 12, 1997. Fisher has since said that the couple's wedding was due to take place on August 9 of the same year.

Fisher told French authorities in 1998 that she and Dodi had vacationed in Saint-Tropez, in the south of France, and then in Paris in July 1997. By her account, she returned to Los Angeles to prepare for the wedding.

The couple's relationship would formally end on August 7 after a phone call with Dodi. Photographs of the producer kissing Princess Diana aboard the Al Fayed yacht Jonikal on August 4 had been published in the British tabloids on August 10.

Fisher and Dodi made headlines, and Diana was accused of being the "other woman" in their relationship. The model gave a press conference in the U.S. on August 14 with lawyer Gloria Allred.

Kelly Fisher and Gloria Allred
Model Kelly Fisher photographed with lawyer Gloria Allred during a press conference in Los Angeles, August 14, 1997. Photographs of Dodi kissing Princess Diana aboard the Al Fayed yacht Jonikal on August 4 had been published in the British tabloids on August 10. KIM KULISH/AFP via Getty Images

During the press conference, Fisher announced she was suing Dodi over breach of promise. The model was photographed wearing a large diamond and sapphire engagement ring, not unlike the one Prince Charles purchased for Diana in 1981.

When asked by journalists if she would consider a reconciliation with Dodi and remain friends, Fisher said "no." Allred said in her statement that Fisher was willing to meet with Princess Diana "anywhere in the world" to discuss Dodi's character and his betrayal of her.

The princess did not comment on this development or make public statements about her relationship with Dodi.

Fisher voluntarily dropped her lawsuit after Dodi's death.

Dodi's Tragic Death

After breaking up with Fisher, Dodi pursued a serious relationship with Princess Diana.

The couple spent a holiday together aboard the yacht Jonikal off the south of France at the end of August before they traveled to Paris, from where they planned to return to London.

In the early hours of August 31, the couple, who were staying at the Ritz Paris hotel, began a journey by car to Dodi's apartment nearby. En route, the car they were traveling in at high speed collided with a structural pillar in the central reservation of the Pont de l'Alma tunnel where Dodi and driver Henri Paul were killed instantly.

The car was being followed by members of the paparazzi and Paul had blood alcohol levels in excess of the legal limit at the time of the crash.

Diana died at the Pitié-Salpêtrière hospital hours later. Diana's bodyguard, Trevor Rees-Jones, was the only person in the car to survive.

Dodi is buried at his father's estate in Surrey, England. Diana was interred on her family estate in Northamptonshire, England.

Following his son's death, Al Fayed voiced his belief that his son and the princess were murdered as part of a conspiracy, and that they had become engaged on the night of their deaths.

The 2008 inquiry into the couple's death found no evidence to definitively prove these claims.

Death of Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed
Newspaper coverage of the death of Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed, August 31, 1997. Dodi Fayed is buried at his father's estate in Surrey, England. Diana was interred on her family estate in Northamptonshire, England. Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

Season 5 of The Crown is available to stream now on Netflix.

Do you have a question about King Charles III, William and Kate, Meghan and Harry or their family that you would like our experienced royal correspondents to answer? Email royals@newsweek.com. We'd love to hear from you.