London (AFP) - The estranged wife of the ruler of Dubai has applied for a UK forced marriage protection order relating to their children, a London court heard Tuesday.
Princess Haya, 45, a wife of 70-year-old United Arab Emirates Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, has applied for the order, as well as for wardship of their children, and a non-molestation order relating to herself, the High Court heard.
The couple are locked in a legal battle in London over the welfare of their two children.
At a preliminary hearing on Tuesday, judge Andrew McFarlane allowed media to report that Princess Haya, a Jordanian royal, had made the applications.
The court also heard that Sheikh Mohammed has applied to the High Court for the summary return of the children to Dubai.
Distinct from arranged marriages, forced marriages, in UK law, are those without the full and free consent of both parties.
A forced marriage protection order can be used to help someone who is being forced into marriage or who has been subjected to one, according to the government's official leaflet on the orders.
They can be applied for by the person in question, a relevant third party or anyone else with the permission of the court.
Applications must include details of how the applicant wants to be protected by the court, with the leaflet giving the example of stopping a person from being taken out of the UK to enter into a marriage without consent.
- Foreign media excluded -
After a previous hearing held in private in London, the couple issued a statement relating to the nature of the case.
"These proceedings are concerned with the welfare of the two children of their marriage and do not concern divorce or finances," it said.
It said the preliminary case management hearing would "deal with issues relating to how to proceed to a final hearing to determine the welfare issues".
Judge McFarlane -- who presides over the family division of the High Court of England and Wales -- decided Tuesday that only accredited journalists with media based within the jurisdiction of England and Wales were allowed to sit in on the proceedings.
Reporters from media organisations not based in the UK were in attendance but were told they could not hear the proceedings.
Princess Haya is a daughter of the late King Hussein of Jordan and a half-sister of King Abdullah II of Jordan.
The princess was in court for the proceedings while Sheikh Mohammed was not.
She left the court accompanied by her lawyer Fiona Shackleton who represented Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne, in his divorce from Diana, princess of Wales.
Sheikh Mohammed is being represented by Helen Ward, who acted for Guy Ritchie in his divorce from pop star Madonna and for former Formula One motor racing supremo Bernie Ecclestone in his divorce.
A small anti-Sheikh Mohammed demonstration took place outside the courts complex.
The two-day preliminary hearing is set to continue on Wednesday.