Graham Smith, Thursday 17 March 2011 16.20 GMT
Being ‘royal’ doesn’t stop you being a violent dictator. Why are such people receiving invitations to Prince William’s wedding?
A man from the Shia village of Sitra in hospital this week after he was shot with pellets of buckshot as the king of Bahrain imposed a state of emergency. Photograph: James Lawler Duggan/AFP/Getty Images
I have written a letter to Prince William and Kate Middleton calling on them to remove the king of Bahrain and other vile men from their wedding invitation list. The king, who has reportedly received a personal invitation to the wedding from the Queen, has violently crushed the pro-democracy movement in his country. I reminded the couple of this country’s duty to support the oppressed and the democrats over the despots and oppressors, and warned that it would send an “appalling message to the world were any dictators of the Middle East – royal or otherwise – seen enjoying the hospitality of your family and rubbing shoulders with Hollywood stars and politicians at your wedding”.
The inclusion of these dictators on a wedding invitation list that excludes democratic leaders from Europe and the US speaks volumes about the world view of the Windsor family. These are people who favour status over principle and “royalty” over legitimacy.
The relationship between our royal family and those of the Middle East has a long history. It is a very deep and very personal one – as we saw when Prince Charles used his connections with the Qatari princes to pull the plug on the Chelsea barracks developer at the cost of thousands of jobs.
Yet why do they choose these dictators over others? The family connections were never so strong with the houses of Saddam Hussein or Hosni Mubarak, yet in practice the differences are only a matter of degrees. It would seem that if a dictator has the foresight to call himself “king”, the Windsor family will seek out his friendship and speak favourably of him in diplomatic circles. Perhaps this is why the “royal” dictators have received a more muted response to their atrocities from the British government. No doubt if Kim Jong-il of North Korea – a monarchy in all but name – were to crown himself King Jong-il he too would discover new friends in Clarence House and Buckingham Palace. He may even get an invitation to Kate and Wills’s big day.
I would ask the Windsors to spare a thought for those protesters who have been shot, arrested, tortured and killed. Think of the families whose loved ones have gone missing or who have had the lifeless bodies of their brothers and sons returned to them by the savage security services who prop up these so-called royal families. And my question to the Windsors is a simple one: can you look those people in the eye and justify the invitation you have extended to their oppressors, can you justify your cosy relationships with these brutal men?
The inclusion of these people on the guest list of the royal wedding sends an appalling message to the world, particularly at this time, and it reflects very badly on the Windsor family. It shows the sort of principles and priorities the family has and only adds to the long list of reasons why our shabby and nepotistic monarchy should be abolished in favour of an open, accountable and representative republic.
• The headline and standfirst on this article was changed at 18:58 on 17 March 2011 to make it clear that the author does not think the royal wedding is something that can be disgraced