The wife of the ruler of Dubai paid her British bodyguard lover £1.2 million to keep quiet about their two-year affair and the luxury gifts she gave him including a £12,000 watch and vintage shotgun, Mail Online has been told.
Princess Haya, the sixth and youngest wife of billionaire Sheikh Mohammed Al Maktoum, showered Russell Flowers with extravagant presents and insisted he accompany her wherever she went.
The two-year relationship was raised during the princess’s bitter High Court hearing against her husband in London in which she won custody of their two children.
It also ended Flowers’s four year marriage and left his wife ‘devastated’ by the betrayal and, for the first time, her friends have revealed how she found out about the affair.
They say she told them her former husband, 37, had been seduced by the 46-year-old princess, whose expensive presents included a £12,00 watch and a £50,000 vintage shotgun.
As part of his pay off, Flowers cannot speak about his time with the princess or anything he witnessed while working for the royal household. He refused to comment when contacted by MailOnline.
A close friend of his wife told MailOnline: ‘Russell’s wife believed he was seduced by the money and gifts. She gave him lots of expensive gifts and made sure that he was always by her side.
‘On overseas trips the princess would always insist that they have connecting rooms.
‘When she was in the UK she would be out with him almost every night and sometimes they did not return home until the following morning.
‘I was told Russell had his head turned and went from a loving husband to someone his wife did not recognise.’
It is understood the princess disputes a number of the claims being made about the affair.
Flowers, who served for five years in the Princess of Wales Royal Regiment, started working for the princess full time in 2016 and accompanied her on many trips abroad.
First, he was presented with a Rolex, and then a Audemars Piguet watch for his birthday.
‘His wife noticed that calls and messages started to come in every night after he got home from work,’ said the family friend.
‘She was told it was about security, but the messaging would go on for hours. Sometimes the princess would put her son on the phone but it did arouse some suspicion.’
Further gifts followed, including a hand crafted humidor containing thousands of pounds worth of cigars. Haya even gave him a personalised number plate with the word ‘RU55ELLS’.
The friend said: ‘The family were always generous to their bodyguards. The sheikh would often pay out between £5,000 and £15,000 as a tip. But the gifts Russell received were far above that.’
He was also gifted a custom-made Purdy shotgun which was engraved. Other presents included a signet ring with a ruby shaped around the Flowers family crest.
Flowers’s wife suspicions of an affair were confirmed, according to a close friend, late in 2016 when she saw her husband had been sent photos of Haya, the daughter of the late King of Jordan, posing in a swimming costume and other selfies.
‘I know her heart just sank when she saw the photos and she knew her husband was having an affair,’ the friend said.
‘There was no big confrontation but a few months later he turned round to his wife and told her he didn’t love her anymore.
‘She wanted to fight for her marriage and did not believe it was over and just a phase that her husband was going through. Her husband denied anything was going on with the princess.’
The marriage deteriorated and Flowers’s wife noticed he had completely changed.
‘She said he got an all new wardrobe and began working out with a personal trainer.
‘The final evidence came when she found a pack of condoms in his washbag. She told me he denied any affair, but she wasn’t stupid and knew what was going on.’
MailOnline approached the wife, who asked not to be named, but she refused to comment.
The princess and Flowers – who was based at the Sheikh’s stunning 3,000 acre estate of Dalham Hall near Newmarket, Suffolk – were often spotted on CCTV cameras arriving back after spending the night together, according to an insider at the estate.
‘It was an open secret among the team that he was involved with her,’ they said.
MailOnline also understands that three other bodyguards who knew about the affair and were similarly ‘bought off’ with £1.2 million payments to stop them talking.
The former soldiers – whom MailOnline is not identifying – were barred from discussing the affair or their work with the Dubai royal family.
In the summer of 2017, Flowers left his wife and during their acrimonious divorce his ex discovered he had run up a £16,000 credit card bill with one of the items a pair of expensive Louboutin shoes – understood to be for Princess Haya.
The family friend said: ‘She had known Russell since she was 17 years old and believed they had a life together. The divorce left her shattered and it has taken a long time for her to get over the betrayal.
‘Russell should be ashamed of the way her treated his wife. His behaviour was disgusting. She was the main earner in the marriage and gave him a lifestyle that he enjoyed and he has betrayed her.
‘Haya should be ashamed of the way she went after a married man. There is no excuse. It was because of her wealth and power that she was able to do this. Many lives have been ruined because of this affair.’
The two-year romance led to the princess fleeing her home in Dubai with her two children in fear of her life after being confronted by her husband.
She went on to fight a bitter battle in the High Court, represented by high profile lawyer Fiona Shackleton against the sheikh who was seeking the return of the children to Dubai.
During the hearings, which the sheikh desperately fought to keep private, the judge ruled Haya had suffered a ‘campaign of intimidation’ and was taunted about her affair.
Family court judge Sir Andrew McFarlane heard evidence of the relationship with Flowers, although he was not named in the court judgment. He was identified at a later date.
In his fact-finding ruling which found in favour of Princess Haya, the judge said she had ’embarked upon an adulterous relationship with one of her male bodyguards.’
He also found the sheikh had carried out campaign of fear and intimidation which included divorcing her without telling her, arranging for guns to be left in her bedroom and attempting to have her abducted by helicopter.
The princess now lives at a £85m home in Kensington, London, with her two children.