Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is now not expected to go to service with other world leaders amid backlash at UK visit
By Hannah Mcdonald
Saudi Arabia‘s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is now not expected to attend Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral on Monday, amid backlash at his visit to the UK.
Prince Turki bin Mohammed al Saud is instead expected to represent Saudi Arabia, the Foreign Office told MailOnline.
A spokesperson for the Foreign Office said Heads of State of nations with which the UK has diplomatic relations may choose to delegate the invitation.
A source said the change had been made by Saudi Arabia, Reuters reported.
This comes after Human Rights groups criticised the decision to invite the Crown Prince – who has been accused by Western intelligence of ordering the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi – to the funeral.
Hatice Cengiz, the fiancee of Mr Khashoggi, had also condemned the controversial invitation.
She said his presence at Her Majesty’s state funeral would ‘stain her memory’ – a sentiment echoed by activists who say allowing Saudi Arabia‘s de facto ruler, known as MBS, to attend is trying to ‘whitewash’ his human rights record.
The Prince ‘approved’ the murder and dismemberment of Mr Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in 2018, a declassified CIA report alleged. He vehemently denies the claims and said recently that that the journalist would not be among his top 1,000 targets to kill, ‘if that was how we did things’.
MBS is one of the more than 500 foreign dignitaries and heads of state invited to mourn Queen Elizabeth II during the service at Westminster Abbey on Monday. A cast of controversial statesmen were invited to the affair including Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia confirmed on Saturday that MBS was travelling to London but did not disclose the details of his visit.
This comes after Human Rights groups criticised the decision to invite the Crown Prince – who has been accused by Western intelligence of ordering the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi – to the funeral
Approximately 2,000 people are expected to attend the Queen’s service on Monday, including world leaders, VIPS and members of other royal families. The televised funeral is expected to be watched by 4.1 billion people and analysts predict 2 million others will flock to the capital for the event.
Ms Cengiz criticised the Saudi’s ruler’s invitation to the funeral, arguing he was using a time of mourning to ‘seek legitimacy and normalisation.’
‘The Queen’s passing is a truly sad occasion,’ she told The Guardian. ‘The crown prince should not be allowed to be part of this mourning and not be allowed to stain her memory and use this time mourning to seek legitimacy and normalisation.’
Her claims were echoed by advocacy groups across the UK who allege Her Majesty’s death is not the time for ‘authoritarian dictators’ to try and ‘rehabilitate’ their image.
‘The UK simply should not be welcoming dictators from states renowned for their atrocious human rights records,’ Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, of the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, said.
‘Although the leaders of Russia and Syria have rightly not received invitations to attend the Queen’s funeral, it sends a clear double standard to then welcome notorious Gulf despots such as King Hamad and Mohammed bin Salman, who continue to preside over appalling violations against those who dare to speak out in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.’
Activist Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, the UK-based director of advocacy at the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, reiterated his colleagues claims, saying: ‘Authoritarian dictators should not use the Queen’s death as an opportunity to try to rehabilitate their image while they escalate repressive campaigns in their countries.’
Similarly, UK-based Campaign Against the Arms Trade slammed Saudi Arabia and other Gulf monarchies for ‘using the Queen’s funeral as a way to – in their words – “whitewash” their human rights records,’ BBC reported.
In a report earlier this week, CNN Arabic claimed MBS would not be attending the funeral, citing his ‘fragile ego’ as likely having played a role in his decision.
Abdullah Alaoudh, a Washington-based Saudi dissident, told the TV network that MBS would be ‘seated behind other powerful figures’ at the event, which he would allegedly bother him.
‘MBS wants full acknowledgement of his power, his existence, of getting in the front row,’ Mr Alaoudh argued. ‘He cares a lot about these symbols and does not want to be humiliated.’
Additionally, world dignitaries have been asked to jump on shuttle buses to Westminster Abbey, as is standard protocol, instead of using state limousines or carriages.
The only exception appears to be US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill will be able to take the armoured Beast to the Queen’s funeral.
Some embassies have reportedly made as-yet unsuccessful efforts to request exceptions to the Foreign Office guidance.
Approximately 2,000 people are expected to attend the Queen’s service on Monday, including world leaders, VIPS and members of other royal families. Members of the public are pictured filing past the Queen’s coffin as it lies in state at Westminster Abbey on Sunday
The leaders of Russia, Belarus and Myanmar reportedly did not get an invite to the Queen’s funeral but a number of controversial figures including Erdogan and Bolsonaro are coming to London for the service.
Chinese President Xi Jinping was invited but is not expected to attend. He instead sent Vice President Wang Qishan to attend on his behalf, China’s Foreign Ministry confirmed to The Wall Street Journal on Saturday.
Several British lawmakers, alleging they were ‘greatly concerned’ by the invitation to President Xi, penned a letter to the House of Commons calling for the invitation to be rescinded. They also strongly criticised China for its treatment of the largely Muslim Uyghur community.
Courtesy: Daily Mail
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Coverpage’s editorial stance