Queen’s lunch criticised over “royal tyrant” guests
In a gathering to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee this Friday afternoon, Queen Elizabeth is hosting a historic lunch at Windsor Castle for 26 of the world’s sovereign monarchs. Treated to a British-inspired menu, foreign royals and 12 members of the British monarchy will come together in the biggest gathering of foreign royals in the UK since the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding last year.
The guest list has been widely criticised by human rights groups as it has been revealed that the King of Bahrain is amongst those invited. Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa’s regime has been accused of brutal suppression, which has led to much international condemnation. Major demonstrations in Bahrain last year were violently crushed by Bahraini and Saudi forces and many feel that little has changed since.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has said that “all world sovereigns” were invited to the event and that the invitations were issued in a private, not public, capacity. The FCO then added that the UK was a longstanding friend of Bahrain and that the strong relationship allowed “full and frank discussion” of the issues at hand. The Bahrain government, meanwhile, has stated its intentions to improve human rights in the island nation.
However, Labour MP Denis MacShane stated: “many will regret that the foreign secretary… has decided to include a representative of the Bahraini regime which has done such terrible things to its own people since the Arab awakening a year ago.”
Other contentious guests include the rulers of Swaziland, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, who have all faced criticism in recent times for repressive regimes and perceived human rights offences. Described by human rights campaigners as “royal tyrants”, their appearance has sparked outrage and disbelief from the public, placing the Queen in an uncomfortable position.
Protests are expected all over the capital. The Savoy Hotel, where Swaziland’s ruler Mswati is residing during his stay, has been picketed by the exile group Swazi Vigil. Demonstrators are also expected to stage protests outside Buckingham Palace and the Bahrain Embassy in London over Al Khalifa’s inclusion on the guest list.