The fairy tale romance between a U.S. Marine and a Bahraini royal is no more

By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated December 01, 2004 02:00 PM

It’s curtains for the real-life fantasy romance between former U.S. Marine Jason Johnson and the Bahraini royal Meriam Al-Khalifa, whose escapades inspired the 2001 TV movie The Princess and the Marine.

Johnson filed for divorce Friday after five years of marriage, the Associated Press reports. He tells the Las Vegas Review-Journal: “It was what she wanted.”

In his legal papers he claimed the couple – he’s 28 and she’s 24 – were “incompatible in marriage.”

Not that this was always so. As depicted in the TV version, which featured NYPD Blue star Mark-Paul Goselaar and Marisol Nichols, Johnson, a Mormon, met the beautiful Meriam, a Muslim, when he was assigned to the Emirate of Bahrain.

Given their religious and cultural differences, not to mention the disparity of their social positions, she shielded her true identity from him. At the time, she was also trying to escape an arranged marriage her family had planned for her.

The couple took their affair to the U.S. (he smuggled her in and was court-martialed for it) and married. Meriam reportedly feared for her safety if she were to return to her native country.

Yet the marriage that inspired international headlines and a TV production crumbled. Johnson claims she dumped him and immersed herself in the Las Vegas nightlife. “She’s gone off the deep end,” he tells the Review-Journal.

Her family also continued to oppose the marriage, and she had received at least one death threat by a man who was reportedly offered $500,00 to kill her, as Johnson claimed the FBI told him.

The two have been estranged for about a year, says Johnson, and he now lives in the gambling capital with his mother. It is not known if his soon-to-be ex will return to her native Bahrain.

“Deep down inside, she knows that I loved her more than anything in the world,” Johnson admits. “I can say I enjoyed every minute I spent with her.”