Saudi Royal does ‘$8 million runner' from Paris hotel
The front of a "Caprices de Lili" lingerie store where Saudi Princess Maha Al-Sudairi had previously left an unpaid bill. AFP
IF you were trying to dodge a hotel bill you might just slip out of a side door late at night and walk away quietly.
However, when a Saudi princess tried a moonlight flit from the five-star hotel where she owed £5m (nearly AU$8 million)it was never going to end well - not least because of her retinue of 60 servants and a mountain of suitcases.
Princess Maha Al-Sudairi’s planned escape with her entourage immediately led staff at the exclusive Shangri-La hotel in Paris to call police.
And when officers showed up at 3.30am last Friday the wayward ex-wife of Saudi Crown Prince and deputy prime minister Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz - who is second-in-line to the Saudi throne - was stopped as her extensive luggage was being bundled into a fleet of limousines.
Most offenders in her position would have been arrested on the spot, charged and perhaps would already be behind bars.
But because the princess is protected by diplomatic immunity, police were unable to arrest or even charge her with an offence. Instead the French authorities can only approach the Saudi embassy to get them to help.
In the meantime the princess and her small army of servants have been offered refuge from their troubles - at another luxury hotel, the Royal Monceau, near the Champs-Elysees.
The five-star hotel is owned by 'family friend', the Emir of Qatar, who has offered to put her up while the matter is resolved.
The princess arrived in Paris with her entourage on December 23 last year and booked out an entire 41-room floor of the Shangri-La.
Up until then she had been confined to a palace in Saudi Arabia by King Abdullah after leaving behind a trail of unpaid bills with luxury firms across Europe, reportedly including Dior, jewellery outlets Chaumet and Victoria Casal, and at least one hotel.
She repeatedly dodged demands from the hotel to settle her ballooning bill, the newspaper Le Parisien reported.
Matters finally came to a head last week when police found her and her servants attempting to leave the hotel.
This is not the first time the royal has found herself in hot water. Her global over-spending has been well-documented in the past.
She was originally 'cut off' by a furious King Abdullah after racking up massive debts all over the world during the last few years.
In June 2009, she claimed diplomatic immunity in France after amassing £15million (AU$23million) in unpaid shopping bills, including £60,000 (AU$95,000) on designer lingerie alone.
The following year, she was once again bailed out by her oil-rich government after she ordered £18,000 (AU$28,000) worth of glassware and silverware from a Paris store.
Despite this, her fabulously wealthy credentials meant the IOU notes handed to shopkeepers which read ‘payment to follow’ were usually accepted.
Over the years, up to 30 of Paris's most exclusive retailers have fallen foul of her bouncing credit notes, French newspapers reported.
Shop owner Jacky Giami, who owns Paris's Key Largo leisure wear store, said the princess and her relatives had more than £100,000 (AU$159,000) worth of his stock.
Last night, police in Paris said they were unable to arrest or charge her because she was claiming diplomatic immunity.
They said they would be asking the Saudi embassy to help settle her accounts.