Queen Elizabeth causes stir over Bahrain invite

Queen Elizabeth II's invitation of Bahrain King to jubilee invites controversy
Queen Elizabeth causes stir over Bahrain invite
By Claire Valdini
Sun 08 Apr 2012 12:28 PM

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II has risked international criticism by inviting the King of Bahrain to her Diamond Jubilee celebrations amid reports of human rights abuses under the Gulf regime.

Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa is on the guest list for a lunch hosted by the Queen in May at Windsor Castle and is also thought to have been invited to a champagne dinner at Buckingham Palace the same day, the UK’s Daily Mail has reported.

The invitation is expected to be upset human rights activists and opposition groups in Bahrain. The Gulf state last year imposed martial law and called in troops from neighbouring Gulf states to quell thousands of protesters demanding curbs on the power of the ruling Al-Khalifa family.

An independent report in December found Bahraini police used excessive force and “systemic” torture against protesters. The Gulf state has continued to experience unrest on an almost daily basis.

Last year Bahrain's crown prince declined his invitation to the royal wedding of Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge, after a public outcry over the crackdown on demonstrators.

The UK’s Countess of Wessex also came under fire in January for accepting two sets of jewellery from the Bahraini royal family.

The wife of Prince Edward, seventh in line to the throne, received the gifts during an official visit to the country while her husband received a pen and a watch. Other gifts to the couple from the Crown Prince of Bahrain, Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa, included a silk rug and a silver and pearl cup.

Critics urged the Countess to sell the jewellery collections and donate the proceeds to political protesters in the Gulf state.

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