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This is the bodyguard at the centre of Britain’s biggest ever divorce hearing between the ruler of Dubai Sheikh Maktoum and his runaway wife Princess Haya, MailOnline can reveal.

Former infantry soldier Russell Flowers is the man reported to have had ‘inappropriate contact’ with the princess Haya bint al-Hussein, sparking the £4.5bn divorce.

The close protection officer, who separated from his wife last year, today declined to comment on his friendship with the mother-of-two, who is believed to have fled the Arab Kingdom and hiding at the family’s £85million mansion near Kensington Palace.

Asked about the rumoured friendship lasting three years and suggestions that he will be named in divorce proceedings, he said: ‘I have got nothing to say on the matter.’

Mr Flowers, 36, is said to have become too close to the royal during his five-year posting as her close protection officer based at the family’s Dalham Hall Stud in Newmarket and accompanied her around the world.

The friendship is believed to be the reason the Princess Haya bint al-Hussein has fled the Arab kingdom and is now in hiding in London and awaiting a divorce hearing.

Last year Flowers, for five years a soldier with Princess of Wales Royal Regiment, was pictured with her during the Dubai royal family’s annual visit to Royal Ascot holding her seven-year-old son.

The bodyguard has since gone into hiding after Sheikh Maktoum is said to have been troubled by his apparent closeness to his wife.

Senior members of the royal court in Dubai had expressed their concern over the friendship and brought it to the attention of her billionaire racehorse owner husband.

The 69-year-old Sheikh – one of the world’s richest men – has made no official comment but published a poem that many believed was directed at his wife Haya bint al-Hussein and talking about ‘treachery and betrayal’.

Independent sources in Dubai and London confirmed to MailOnline that Mr Flowers, educated at the £7,000-a-term Mayfield College, was the bodyguard that has aroused such concern.

One source close to the family said the Princess Haya bint al-Hussein insisted that Mr Flowers accompanied her on every foreign trip.

She is said to have lavished him with gifts and bought him a Range Rover as well as other presents including a £50,000 custom made hunting rifle, Saville Row suits and a watch.

The top of the range car is said to have a personalised number plate.

Following the break-up of his marriage to his wife, the Princess Haya bint al-Hussein is also said to have bought a farmhouse to accommodate him in a village near Newmarket, Suffolk, where he was based. 

Sources told MailOnline the friendship between Flowers and the Princess was an open secret among the mostly ex-military men who formed the protection team for her and her children aged seven and 11.

Haya would always be accompanied by two bodyguards but on many occasions would dismiss one of them so she would just be left with Flowers, the source claimed.

One member of her team who told her this was a breach of security protocol had his contract terminated was given a pay-off and asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement, it is claimed.

The source said: ‘Princess Haya bint al-Hussein has always had a completely separate security detail from her husband and it was their job to protect her and the kids.

‘There were many occasions when two bodyguards would be with her, but she would dismiss one or Flowers would tell the other he was not needed.

‘This meant when they went out she was not fully protected as there would be no one in a back-up car. The protection team took their jobs very seriously and did not want to lose their jobs for anything going wrong that could be avoided.

‘When the concerned bodyguard brought this up with the Princess Haya bint al-Hussein explaining it was a breach of protocol he had his contract terminated. Of course he signed a non-disclosure agreement.’

Before becoming the crown princesses bodyguard Flowers had worked for a private security firm

After leaving Mayfield College in East Sussex he joined the army and served for almost six years in the 2nd Battalion of The Princess of Wales Regiment from 2003 to 2009.

According to his LinkedIn page he was a Maritime Security Office for two years serving on oil tankers at risk from hijacking by pirates off the Somalia coast.

In 2012 he joined the Knight Security Group and two years later joined UK Mission Enterprise Ltd.

The Dubai Government owns the Belgravia based security and concierge firm which provides round the clock protection as well as domestic help for the Dubai Royal family at their UK residences.

Almost all members of the protection team are ex-military.

Mr Flowers was primarily based at Dalham Hall, the stunning 3,300 acre country estate owned by Sheikh Maktoum about six miles from Newmarket town centre. 

A short distance away are the world famous Godolphin Stables, the centre of all the Sheikh’s horse racing and breeding activities.

Princess Haya bint al-Hussein, an accomplished horsewoman who competed in the equestrian events at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, was a frequent visitor to Dalham Hall.

The source said: ‘Flowers would go everywhere the Princess went. If she went on holiday he was by her side. If she went to the races he would be there.

‘When she goes back to Dubai he would accompany her but did not work there as the royal family have their own protection.

Once the Princess was in Dubai he would get on a plane and fly home. The Princess Haya bint al-Hussein took a great interest in what went on at Dalham Hall and was there most often.’

Due to her frequent visits, the bodyguard and his wife brought a Victorian cottage close to the town centre.

But the source said the marriage broke up last year with his ex blaming the close friendship between her husband and the Princess Haya bint al-Hussein said to be a contributory factor

A friend told MailOnline: ‘When the house was being sold the estate agent make a remark that her husband was now living in a much nicer place that had been bought for him.

‘If she did not know the full extent of the friendship she found out then.’

The house is understood to be in the name of a private company owned by the Princess Haya bint al-Hussein.

His former wife is said to have been left ‘devastated’ by the end of her marriage. 

Rumours about the end of Maktoum’s 15-year marriage to the youngest of his six wives began after she failed to accompany her husband to Royal Ascot this year.

Despite her love of horse racing she was absent and has not been seen in public for almost two months.

The Princess was said to have fled to Germany to seek political asylum and was said to be in ‘fear of her life.’

Sources in Dubai said she had been preparing to flee for several months with the treatment of her step-daughter Princess Latifa a crucial factor.

Latifa, 33, was captured by commandos as she tried to flee to the US to begin a new life having claimed she had previously been imprisoned and tortured when she attempted to escape from Dubai as a teenager.

After being forcibly returned to Dubai she was not seen for nine months until Princess Haya arranged for her friend Mary Robinson, the former Irish PM, to meet with Latifa.

The staged meeting was condemned by human right groups who said Robinson had accepted the Dubai ruler’s version of events that she was the victim of an extortion plot rather than being held against her will.

Campaigners say she is drugged and held as a prisoner in her own home.

Princess Haya is said to have decided to flee when she learned the truth about Latifa and feared the same could happen to her if she remained in Dubai.

She is thought to be in hiding at her £85m home in Kensington, West London, but has not been seen in public.

She has hired Fiona Shackleton to represent her in divorce proceedings at the High Court later this month.

Shackleton is one of the UK’s top divorce lawyers and handled the divorce of Prince Charles and Princess Diana.

Maktoum has hired Helen Ward who represented former Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone in his divorce from his wife Slavica.

Legal experts predict the divorce will be the costliest ever held in the UK.

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