|Mishaal bint Fahd Al Saud|
|Died||15 July 1977 (aged 18–19)|
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
|House||House of Saud|
|Father||Fahd bin Muhammad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud|
HRH Princess Mishaal bint Fahd Al Saud (1958 – 15 July 1977; Arabic: الأميرة مشاعل بنت فهد بن محمد بن عبدالعزيز آل سعود) was a member of the House of Saud who was executed by shooting for committing adultery in 1977, at the age of 19. She was a daughter of Prince Fahd bin Muhammad and a granddaughter of Prince Muhammad bin Abdulaziz, a son of King Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia and the older and only full brother of King Khalid.
Princess Mishaal's family sent her, at her own request, to Beirut, Lebanon, to attend school. While there, she fell in love with a man, Khaled al Sha'er Muhalhal, the nephew of Ali Hassan al Shaer, the Saudi ambassador in Lebanon, and they began an affair. Upon their return to Saudi Arabia, it emerged that they had conspired to meet alone on several occasions and a charge of adultery was brought against them. She attempted to fake her own drowning and was caught trying to escape from Saudi Arabia with Khaled. Although the Princess was disguised as a man, she was recognized by a passport examiner at Jeddah airport. She was subsequently returned to her family. Under the Sharia law current in Saudi Arabia, a person can be convicted of adultery only by the testimony of four adult male witnesses to the act of sexual penetration, or by their own admission of guilt, stating four times in court "I have committed adultery." Her family urged her not to confess but instead merely to promise never to see her lover again. On her return to the courtroom, she repeated her confession: "I have committed adultery. I have committed adultery. I have committed adultery."
On 15 July 1977, both Mishaal and Khaled were publicly executed in Jeddah by the side of the Queen's Building in the park. She was blindfolded, made to kneel, and executed on the explicit instructions of her grandfather, a senior member of the royal family, for the dishonor that she had brought on her clan. Khaled, after being forced to watch her execution, was beheaded with a sword by, it is believed, one of the princess' male relatives rather than by a professional executioner. Severing his head took five blows. Both executions were conducted near the palace in Jeddah, not in Deera Square.
Death of a Princess documentary
Independent film producer Antony Thomas came to Saudi Arabia and interviewed numerous people about the princess' story. He was met by conflicting stories, which later became the subject matter of a British documentary, Death of a Princess. The film was scheduled to show on 9 April 1980 on the ITV television network and then a month later on the public television network PBS in the United States. Both broadcasts were met with livid protests followed by strong diplomatic, economic and political pressure from the Saudis to cancel these broadcasts. After having failed to get the British broadcast cancelled, King Khalid expelled the British ambassador from Saudi Arabia.
In May 1980, attention then shifted to PBS where their officials endured a month of mounting pressure from corporations and politicians. A major PBS sponsor, the Mobil Oil Corporation, took out a full-page ad in The New York Times op-ed page opposing the film and declaring it jeopardized U.S.-Saudi relations. After some stalling, it was eventually broadcast by the PBS program World in most of the US on 12 May 1980, although some PBS stations did not do so. For example, in South Carolina, the PBS affiliate cancelled broadcast of the film, a decision influenced by fact that the then US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, John C. West, had formerly been the state's governor. In 2005, PBS aired Death Of A Princess on Frontline, the successor to World, to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the original broadcast.
King Khalid was said to have offered $11 million to the network to suppress the film.
According to director Antony Thomas, there was no trial or official execution:
It wasn't a trial. She wasn't even executed in the Square of Justice. She was just executed in a car park. I've witnessed executions in Saudi Arabia, I'm afraid. They're always done in a special square. This wasn't even done there. It wasn't done with an official executioner, not that that would make it any worse or any better. But this was not following the process of any law.
David Fanning, co-writer and executive producer of Death of a Princess, added:
The difference between the official version, which was the girl was killed because she was found guilty of adultery, and the truth of it, which turns out that she was, in fact, executed by the king's elder brother in an act of tribal vengeance in a parking lot in Jeddah, was, in fact, the heart of the controversy because that was the part that, of course, the royal family could not countenance. And that was the great outrage.
- Executions in Saudi Arabia
- 2011 Saudi Arabian protests
- Dina Ali Lasloom
- Sara bint Talal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud
- Samar Badawi
- Hamza Kashgari
- Manal al-Sharif
- "Fate of another royal found guilty of adultery". The Independent. 20 July 2009. Archived from the original on 15 May 2022.
- "A Talk With Antony Thomas - Death of A Princess". Frontline. PBS.
- John Laffin (1979). The dagger of Islam. Sphere. p. 48. ISBN 9780722153697.
- Lydia Laube (1991). Behind the Veil: An Australian Nurse in Saudi Arabia. Wakefield Press. p. 156. ISBN 9781862542679.
- Tim Niblock (2015). State, Society, and Economy in Saudi Arabia. Routledge. ISBN 9781317539964.
- Constance L.Hays (26 November 1988). "Mohammed of Saudi Arabia Dies; Warrior and King-Maker Was 80". The New York Times.
- Frank Brenchley (1 January 1989). Britain and the Middle East: Economic History, 1945-87. I.B.Tauris. ISBN 9781870915076 – via Google Books.
- Mohamad Riad El-Ghonemy (1 January 1998). Affluence and Poverty in the Middle East. Routledge. ISBN 9780415100335 – via Google Books.
- Mark Weston (28 July 2008). Prophets and Princes: Saudi Arabia from Muhammad to the Present. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 9780470182574 – via Google Books.
- Cyril Dixon (21 July 2009). "Britain saves princess faced death by stoning". Express.
- South Carolina public TV cancels 'Death of Princess', Wilmington Morning Star, 4 May 1980
- Princess executed for eloping Article in The Observer, 22 January 1978