On the surface, it resembles a fairy tale. A beautiful young princess is forced to marry a wicked old nobleman but falls in love with a handsome boy her own age, secretly bears his child, then goes into hiding – lest she falls into the clutches of her husband, who vows to execute her for adultery.
It sounds improbable, but this, in essence, was the story a Saudi princess told one winter morning last year in the unprepossessing surroundings of the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal at Hatton Cross, near Heathrow Airport.
The princess, who we cannot name for legal reasons, said she was convinced that she and her daughter, whose father is British and once worked at Harrods, would be flogged or stoned to death if forced to return home to Jeddah.
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