THE Queen was facing strong criticism last night after dining with the King of Bahrain, whose regime is accused of a catalogue of human rights abuses.
The head of state and her family sat down to lunch with the Middle East ruler and other controversial foreign royals as they celebrated her Diamond Jubilee.
The event was supposed to be a rare meeting of monarchs to celebrate the 60-year milestone, but it has been overshadowed by criticisms over those invited to Windsor Castle.
Guests from controversial regimes include Swaziland’s King Mswati III, former Prime Minister of Kuwait Sheikh Nasser Mohammad Al-Sabah, who stepped down over a corruption row, and Prince Mohammed Bin Nawaf Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the UK.
Bahrain’s government, dominated by members of its royal family, has been accused of orchestrating the violent suppression of pro-democracy protesters.
When the country’s King Hamad Al-Khalifa arrived at the Castle he was personally greeted by the Queen, who smiled as she shook his hand and the pair laughed as they shared a joke.
The Rotherham Labour MP Denis MacShane, a former Foreign Office Minister, criticised the guest list and laid the blame at the door of the Foreign Office.
Speaking about the King of Bahrain he said: “Given the amount of blood on the hands of the royal regime in Bahrain it’s a shame he will stain the white linen of Windsor Castle at this event.
“It’s the responsibility of the Foreign Office to decide who comes, it’s nothing to do with her majesty.”
Members of the British royal family attending included the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry, the Duke of York and Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie and the Earl and Countess of Wessex.
The popular uprisings that toppled a succession of dictators across the Middle East last year sparked major protests in Bahrain, with protesters calling for a greater say in government. These were violently put down by Saudi forces called in by the regime.
The decision to stage a Formula One Grand Prix in the country last month re-ignited tensions and there was further violence.
Meanwhile, 19-year-old sculptor Jonathan Sherwood has created his own tribute to the Queen in Harrogate after carving out a wooden throne to commemorate the Jubilee.