Saphadin was the brother of Sultan Saladin and served as an intermediary with those who wanted an audience with his brother. Because he was familiar with the appearance of Princess Joanna, the sister of King Richard, he was not fooled by William des Preaux's claim that Barbara Wright was really Joanna.

When Richard offered his sister in marriage to Saphadin in 1190, he was interested. He looked forward to land and power but recognised his brother's caution regarding the match. However, Joanna refused to marry him, telling Richard that the Pope would never permit her marriage to "that infidel". (TV: The Crusade)