Arab princesses kicked off British Airways plane to jeers and whistles after refusing to sit next to male strangers By RAY MASSEY - Last updated at 11:45am on 28th July 2007 The delayed plane sat on a baking Italian runway for almost three hours Qatar's Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani: related to the Princesses Three Arab princesses were thrown off a packed British Airways flight after refusing to sit next to male passengers they didn't know. The dispute - in which the three princesses from the ultra-conservative Qatar royal family demanded segregated seating - left the London-bound plane delayed on a baking Italian runway for nearly three hours. Furious passengers whistled and clapped as the row intensified before the captain eventually ordered the women to be escorted off the plane. The princesses, wearing traditional Arab dress, were returning from a day's shopping in Milan. They arrived at the city's Linate airport and boarded Heathrow-bound flight BA 563, which was due to take off at 4pm on Thursday. The women, all relatives of the oil-rich emir of Qatar, Bader Bin Khalifa Al Thani, were booked into business class in a party of eight which included the emir and an entourage of cooks, servants and other staff. After passengers had fastened their seat-belts and the plane had taxied on to the runway, two male passengers in the entourage got up to protest about where the women were sitting. According to the customs of Qatar and other Gulf states, women are not allowed to mix with men who are not relatives. Cabin crew tried to rearrange the seats but passengers travelling together refused to give up their allotted places. The captain tried to mediate but after more than two and a half hours of wrangling he ordered the bulk of their royal party off the plane. It is understood that five of the eight - including the princesses and the men who left their seats to protest - were removed. Police and diplomats from the Qatar consulate in Milan were also called in before the plane eventually took off. The rest of the Qatar party left Milan later on an Alitalia flight. A BA spokesman said: "The people were offloaded because they failed to comply with safety instructions when the aircraft was taxiing. Two passengers stood up and refused to sit down." A spokesman at the Qatar embassy in Rome said: "This was a private matter and we have nothing to say."