December 17, 1996

Mark Boyden and Princess Zahra: they met in France two years ago and are expected to marry in the summer

Aga Khan's daughter to wed Briton


Princess Zahra, the only daughter of the Aga Khan, has become engaged to a farmer's son from Dorset, it was announced yesterday. Mark Boyden, 35, a management consultant who is also involved with his parents' farming business, met the princess through friends two years ago in France. They are expected to marry next summer.

The Aga Khan announced the engagement yesterday in a notice issued by his secretariat in Aiglemont, near Chantilly, France. Mr Boyden's mother, Patricia, said: "We are delighted, very happy indeed, but we have been asked to refer all queries to the Aga Khan's office".

Speaking at the family farm in Cheselborne, Dorchester, from where their business, Boyden Brothers, is run, Mrs Boyden added that she and her husband John knew the princess well. "We don't yet know the date for the wedding though", she said.

Mr Boyden is a former pupil of the now defunct Dartington Hall School, in Devon. He studied business administration at Oxford Brookes University, focusing particularly on business ethics and human rights, before becoming a management consultant.

Princess Zahra, 26, the oldest of the Aga Khan and Princess Salimah's three children, has worked for her father, leader of the world's four million Ismaili Muslims and directly descended from the prophet Mohammed, since graduating from Harvard University in 1994.

The announcement said she was "actively involved in social development activities, focusing particularly on women's development and the provision of safety nets for the very poor in Africa and Asia."

She and Mr Boyden will divide their time between England and France and the princess will continue to work for her father.

Recently she followed in his footsteps by becoming involved in racehorse ownership, registering her own dark green and brown colours. Her parents divorced last year with an estimated £50 million settlement for her mother, the former model Sally Croker-Poole, 56. Mr Boyden has one older sister, Jo, who is under stood to be working as an academic in Oxford.

Princess Zahra has two brothers Prince Rahim, 25, and Prince Hussain, 22. A family friend was once quoted as saying: "Zahra has easily the nicest personality of the three children and while Rahim will eventually succeed their father she will be a great asset. She has a tremendous sense of humour and is a lot of fun to be with."

The Times, Britain - December 17, 1996

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