‘We won’t put Charles on a bus’: Gulf royals reject Queen’s funeral protocol

From Oman in the east to Morocco in the west, royals in the Middle East and North Africa have been closely following the Queen’s funeral plans, but as days tick by before the biggest event in modern global royal history, they are unlikely to make it to London will travel in numbers.

The monarchies tried to guess the meaning of the protocol arrangements and were very disappointed by what they saw.

The expectation that the kings and chiefs of the region would take a bus to Westminster Abbey was not well received. Nor was there talk of seating plans that would put royals and regional heads in seats behind Commonwealth leaders who were an important part of the Queen’s orbit but often less influential when it came to Britain’s trade and security ties.

The leaders of Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia were not sure who they would send to London for what will be one of the biggest gatherings of world leaders in decades. Kuwait is believed to be sending its crown prince and Abu Dhabi as vice president. Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader Mohammed bin Salman had always thought he intended to travel – in what would be his first trip to the UK since the death of dissident Jamal Khashoggi – but no final decision has not been taken, 72 hours after the dignitaries meet.

If Prince Mohammed travels to London, he is not expected to attend the official ceremonies, and will instead offer his own condolences to a king who was well known in the country. Saudi Arabia from the late queen herself. There are high hopes that Charles will help revive relations between London and Riyadh, which were strained during the turbulent years of Prince Mohammed.

As Prince of Wales, Charles has visited Saudi Arabia 12 times and is seen in the kingdom as having a longstanding sympathetic attitude towards the region’s cultures, traditions and history. Charles was also very interested in Islam and apparently took basic lessons in Arabic.

“Charles has built very strong relationships with the royal families of the Gulf over the decades and has done so on the basis of friendship and common royal blood, which is of particular importance to the Saudis,” said a former diplomat. “I think it gives him the basis for honest conversations. And for a long time, he has the ability to raise issues and even be decisive in a way that short-term political leaders find very difficult.

He used to go out with the late King Abdullah in a tent in the desert. I remember a friend telling me they bowled together on the sand. You take the time to stay overnight and take care of them where they live, so that’s important.

“How long he can continue like this now that he is king is an open question. Because he will be more conservative in how he chooses to exert his influence. But the truth is, to the extent he chose to help the British government, he would have a very positive impact on these countries.

“Obviously he had a problem with money [donation] It happened a few months ago, but there is still some positivity to be found.

The current King Charles has also forged strong ties with the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, with the latter sparking controversy in July when revelations emerged of the £2.5m cash donations made by former Qatari Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim to the Prince of Wales Charitable Foundation.

In Abu Dhabi, there are high hopes for closer relations with the new king. During the reign of Queen Elizabeth came the establishment of the United Arab Emirates as a state in 1971 and its extraordinary growth over the next five decades. The Queen visited Dubai and Abu Dhabi on official occasions seen as boosting UK trade relations.

A British official with long-standing ties to the Gulf said: “But when it came to Charles, he could sit down and talk to them. He was willing to advance British interests, as was Prince Andrew, to be fair.

“He wouldn’t be able to do it as a king, but they know he understands them. He hadn’t talked about the tyranny of tyranny in years. He is not a preacher like some British officials.

How King Charles reconsiders his friendships and perhaps his views on the Gulf states will be closely watched in all Gulf capitals, where expectations are high that the new British monarch will offer a familiar and less formal approach based on decades of relationships and ‘ a great interest in the region and Islam.

“There are many things hanging in the eyes of the GCC countries,” said a Kuwaiti official. “Everyone reads tea leaves. However, this is not a good start. If the king comes to our neighborhood, we won’t take him on the bus. Expecting loyal friends of King Charles to get on a bus like school children to go to the funeral is not the start we expected. That’s why some of us turn away.

Leave a Comment