The Saudi crown prince’s demise entered suddenly into plain view and in rare form in mid-April when the youngest daughter of the former Saudi king posted an emotional and very public cry for help on Twitter. The princess — known formally as Princess Basmah bint Saud bin Abdulaziz Al Saud — publicly pleaded that she had been kidnapped along with her daughter. She stated that she had been imprisoned without cause or access to medical care for the past year in an infamous prison for jihadists outside Riyadh. Posts on her no-frills personal website echoed her Twitter claims.

This revelation shocked some and vindicated others, following speculation in early 2019 regarding the princess’s whereabouts after her unexplained disappearance just before her 55th birthday on 28 February. Activity — or the lack thereof — from the princess and her daughter’s Twitter accounts eerily mirrors this disappearance.

Referred affectionately to as Saudi Arabia’s Oprah, the princess is considered moderate, modern, and a women’s rights advocate. She was an avid Twitter user and embraced her hundreds of thousands of followers with messages of equality, human rights, and a better future for underserved populations.

Immediately after her tweets went public and raised enough alarm to attract the attention of the New York Times’ bureau chief in Beirut, they were inexplicably deleted. This raised even more questions regarding the princess’s condition, who had imprisoned her, and to what extent members of the regime — her cousin and uncle included — knew of her plight.

The aftermath of this unexpected and rare public outburst offers outsiders a unique opportunity to gain valuable insight into the kingdom of deceit the present Saudi regime has fostered, and the Machiavellian extent its crown prince has gone to manipulate it. It also serves as a message of hope for all that Princess Basmah represents: the fostering of international relationships between Arab and Western nations; modernization and liberalization of Saudi society regarding women’s rights; and a forthright perspective towards the slew of injustices perpetrated by past and present regimes.

Ha’ir prison, where the princess remains detained, is a far cry from the typical locations used to detain wealthy members of the Saudi elite that were brave or powerful enough to threaten Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s (MbS) rapid ascension to power.

MbS gained notoriety in 2017 for a bloodless coup that saw the detention and coercion of several members of the royal family that threatened his ascendancy. The crown prince has since made headlines for several aggressive power plays — among them, the targeted killing of Washington Post journalist and Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi; the use of Israeli-made spyware to target journalists and activists who spoke honestly of human rights abuses by the regime; the phone hack of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos; and continued Saudi military operations contributing to war-induced famine in Yemen.

While shoring up domestic support through coercive and dastardly means, MbS simultaneously launched an effective public relations campaign to ensure consistent international support from key oil importers such as the United States. Branding himself as a modern and young face of the House of Saud, MbS quickly earned a reputation for his lavish spending, and for not being shy to flaunt his multi-billion dollar net worth. Examples of that include the bid to purchase U.K.’s Newcastle United football club; the world’s most expensive private home purchase (located just outside Paris); ambitious plans for a tech megacity in the Saudi Arabian desert; and the purchase of several massive yachts.