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Unpopular kings give sour taste to Queen's jubilee lunch

Last updated on: May 18, 2012 21:49 IST

Unpopular kings give sour taste to Queen's jubilee lunch

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A celebratory lunch at Windsor to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth's reign has been marred by a row over the guest list, with campaigners criticising the invitation to monarchs from countries like Bahrain and Swaziland with allegedly poor governance record.

The Queen was joined at the table by 26 kings and queens from around the world, while Queen Sofia of Spain declined the royal invitation due to a dispute over fishing rights off Gibraltar, a UK territory claimed by Spain.

Among the guests is King Hamad al-Khalifa of Bahrain, whose attendance has been criticised by human rights campaigners, but the Buckingham Palace said that the Foreign Office approved the invitation of King Hamad. The Foreign Office said it was having "a full and frank discussion on a range of issues" with Bahrain government.

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Image: Emperor Akihito of Japan, Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, King Constantine of Greece, King Michael of Romania, HM , Simeon Borisov of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah, King Carl Gustaf XVI of Sweden, HM the King of Swaziland, and Prince Hans-Adam II of Liechtenstein, (middle row L - R) HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco, Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg, King Letsie III of Lesotho, King Albert of Belgium, King Harald V of Norway, Emir of the State of Qatar Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, King Abdallah II of Jordan, King of Bahrain Hamad ibn Isa Al Khalifa, The Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia, (top row, L - R) Nasser Mohamed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah of Kuwait, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, HRH the Crown Prince Alexander II of Yugoslavia, King George Tupou V of Tong, Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn of Tahiland, Princess Lalla Meryem of Morocco and HRH Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia before her Sovereign Monarch's Jubilee lunch, in the Grand reception room at Windsor Castle on May 18, 2012 in Windsor, England
Photographs: John Stillwell/WPA Pool/Getty Images

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Unpopular kings give sour taste to Queen's jubilee lunch

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Also controversial is the invitation to King Mswati III of Swaziland, who is accused of living a lavish lifestyle while his people go hungry.

Campaigner Peter Tatchell criticised the Queen for inviting "royal tyrants to celebrate her Diamond Jubilee", and termed the invitation to the kings of Bahrain and Swaziland was "a shocking misjudgement".

He told BBC: "Inviting blood stained despots brings shame to our monarchy and tarnishes the Diamond Jubilee celebrations".

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Image: King Mswati III of Swaziland is greeted by Queen Elizabeth II at a lunch For Sovereign Monarchs in honour of Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee, at Windsor Castle, on May 18, 2012 in Windsor, England
Photographs: Dominic Lipinski/WPA Pool/Getty Images

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Unpopular kings give sour taste to Queen's jubilee lunch

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Mohammed Sadiq, spokesperson for Justice of Bahrain, told the BBC that he fully supported the Diamond Jubilee celebrations, but did not understand what has changed in Bahrain to prompt the Queen to invite King Hamad.

Sadiq said: "How would the British feel if the Queen had invited Saddam Hussein or Colonel Gaddafi to such an occasion?" Anti-monarchist campaign group Republic believes the Queen and her aides have made a "catastrophic error of judgement" in inviting the Bahrani King.

The lunch will be followed by an evening banquet, hosted by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall.

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Image: King of Bahrain Hamad ibn Isa Al Khalifa is greeted by Queen Elizabeth II as he arrives at a lunch for Sovereign Monarch's held in honour of Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee, at Windsor Castle, on May 18, 2012 in Windsor, England
Photographs: Dominic Lipinski/WPA Pool/Getty Images

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Unpopular kings give sour taste to Queen's jubilee lunch

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The menu at the royal lunch was reported to be "British-inspired".

For starters, the royals were treated to a tartlet of poached egg with English asparagus.

This was followed by a main course of new season Windsor Lamb with braised potatoes, artichokes, peas, carrots, broad beans, cabbage, and a tomato and basil salad.

Kent strawberries and vanilla Charlotte concluded the meal, with dessert fruit and cheese also on offer.

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Image: Princess Alexandra speaks to Emperor Akihito of Japan and Empress Michiko of Japan during a reception in the Waterloo Chamber, before her Sovereign Monarch's Jubilee lunch, at Windsor Castle, on May 18, 2012 in Windsor, England
Photographs: John Stillwell/WPA Pool/Getty Images
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