Born Princess Misha’al bint Fahd al Saud, she was a Saudi Arabian princess, who was publicly executed by her family for adultery at age 19.
Death of a Princess is a British 1980 drama-documentary produced by ATV in cooperation with WGBH in the United States. The drama is based on the true story of Princess Mishaal, a young Saudi Arabian princess and her lover who had been publicly executed for adultery.
Its depiction of the customs of Saudi Arabia led some Middle Eastern governments to oppose its broadcast under threat of damaging trade relations.
According to the documentary, she was attending the American university in Beirut. She fell in love with the son of the Saudi ambassador to Lebanon, but was summoned by the family to Riyadh to marry a man old enough to be her father.
Eloping with her lover, she was married in Jeddah and from there made plans to flee the country. She and her lover were caught at the airport in Jeddah, and were later executed.
But the Saudi Embassy, in offering a rare peek behind the veil that shrouds the activities of the royal family which rules the wealthy kingdom, angrily denied British press reports that the couple had been killed because the princess sought to marry a commoner.
“They were both executed after sentence by an Islamic court for adultery,” the Saudi Embassy said in a formal statement. “For an adulterous act, the law is death.
“The victims of the feudal Islamic code were Princess Misha Abdul Aziz and Musleh Shaer. She was said to be 19 and he in his early 20s.
In Edward Said’s book Covering Islam, he discusses the release of Death of Princess and the Saudi response. He argues that although the Saudis opposed the showing of the film and used their money to try and coerce PBS from televising it, they lacked the cultural capital that the West had over representation of Muslims in the media.
Naturally, the Saudis opposed it for its implications of Saudi royal family corruption, but also because it only reinforced images of Sharia law that Westerners understand