This American Married Into Royalty—Now She’s Dead

·2 min read
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An American-born princess whose fairy tale life turned into a modern horror story has died in her home in Spain.

Kasia Gallanio, 45, was born to Polish parents in Los Angeles, but spent the last years of her troubled life fighting for custody of the three daughters she had with the Prince of Qatar, Abdelaziz bin Khalifa Al-Thani, who is 30 years her senior and the uncle of the emir of Qatar.

Al-Thani moved to Paris in 1992 after he was cast out of the royal family for allegedly trying to overthrown the emir. He met Gallanio, who would ultimately become his third wife, there and convinced her to convert to Islam. Gallanio was involved in a $65 million lawsuit after discovering that someone had fraudulently been siphoning funds out of Al-Thani’s Barclay’s bank account, which made headlines across France in the late 1990s.

Gallanio left her husband over allegations that her husband sexually abused one of her three daughters when she was between 9 and 15 years old, and the two had been in a bitter custody battle that exposed plenty of family secrets of the Qatar royal family, with allegations that ran the gamut from infidelity to corruption.

Al-Thani denies all allegations and maintained custody off all three girls at his home in Paris while Gallanio lived in a palace in Marbella, Spain, where French media reported she was battling depression and addictions to drugs and alcohol.

Galliano had fled with her daughters from that palatial Parisian flat, but Al-Thani had recently regained custody of the girls, and they had moved back with him to Paris, according to French and Spanish media reports. If they attempted to visit their mother, the prince reportedly made them sleep in the servants quarters until they repented, according to French media reports.

A full autopsy is being carried out on Tuesday, but first responders said that they suspect her death was a drug overdose. Police went to the Costa del Sol beach home after she had not responded to her children’s telephone calls for several days. They have now opened an investigation into any circumstances around her death, including whether it was inspired by the bitter custody battle.

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