Invited to the royal lunch hosted by the Queen herself are the King of Bahrain and Swaziland’s King Mswati III, two of the most controversial monarchs presently. Following the lives of the two monarchs, it is said that the King of Bahrain as a human rights violator and King Mswati stepping on his people while he lives a luxurious lifestyle.
The Queen is criticised by many because of her invite of “Royal Tyrants”, as Campaigner Peter Tatchell describes the guests, in celebration of her Diamond Jubilee. The presence of the two totalitarian monarchial figures spark protest from pro-democratic campaigners and political prisoners.
The Buckingham Palace has not commented on the issue.
Given the particular background of the two monarchs, many other critics see it as a ‘diplomatic gesture’ or just having ‘guests’ of the same integrity of royalty fit for the guests the Queen should certainly have. However, is not the reaction of the public being too judgemental about the guests? Certainly, part of it is, given the evident violations the two monrachial figures have exhibited.
On Thursday, former Foreign Office Minister Denis MacShane criticised Bahrain for doing “such terrible things to its own people since the Arab awakening a year ago”.
He said Arab nations “must let their citizens vote in free elections and let them speak without fear of arrest, torture or death”.
“For too long we have turned a blind eye to the repression carried out under the rule of royals in Arabia – the Foreign Office should protect the British Queen rather than expose her to having to dine with a despot.”
On Wednesday, meanwhile, a group of UK-based Swazis protested outside the Savoy hotel, in London, where King Mswati – who is widely accused of profligate spending – is thought to be staying.
The Swazliand Vigil group said it had written to the Queen to ask her to influence the king.
Spain’s Queen Sofia has pulled out because of a dispute over Gibraltar
King Mswati is rated by Forbes magazine as the world’s 15th richest monarch with a personal fortune of $100m (£62m) – while many of his 1.2 million subjects live in poverty.
Saudi and Kuwaiti royals are also attending the banquet.
Amnesty international has recently highlighted repression in Saudi Arabia, as the authorities there crack down on protesters and reformists.
And Human Rights Watch has criticised Kuwait for the suspension of a daily newspaper and the conviction of its editor for incitement.
Meanwhile, Queen Sofia of Spain will not be attending because of a dispute over fishing rights off Gibraltar, a UK territory that Spain also claims.
The Spanish government statement said it was “hardly appropriate” for the 73-year-old to attend the lunch.
Her husband, King Juan Carlos, had already declined an invitation because he is recovering from a broken hip.
BBC diplomatic correspondent, Bridget Kendall, says that two problems always hung over this Diamond Jubilee lunch list – the possibility of protests at the inclusion of the despots and non democrats among the invited crowned heads of states, and the risk of diplomatic spats intervening.
Gibraltar has been the cause of a no-show by Spain before at a royal occasion. Spanish royalty stayed away from Prince Charles’ wedding to Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1981 because the honeymoon was to include a stop in Gibraltar, our correspondent added.
Other members of the British royal family, including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry, the Earl and Countess of Wessex and the Duke of York and Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie will also be at the lunch.
Source: BBC News