A British-American bluestocking living in the UK writes about politics, pop culture, and emerging new paradigms as they unfold on both sides of the Atlantic. (New content.)

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Dictators And Despots: Guess Who's Coming to the Wedding?

The Queen and Syrian Ambassador
Most brides and grooms are usually concerned about whether their mothers and fathers will speak to each other since their divorce. And I am sure there has been a lot of nail-biting as to where to seat each parent's new spouse at a wedding so that peace will reign among families. Perhaps a couple might wonder if old Auntie Liz will drink too much at the reception and start to request, "Dancing Queen" and have to be shooed off the floor.  Most couples don't have to worry about whether foreign despots or dictators will be attending and where exactly to seat them. But it has become evident that in this Royal Wedding, it has become a problem. And this problem is casting a long and ominous shadow over the festivities.

With all the protocol that the Royals insist upon, how on earth did some of the most brazen human rights abusers get invited to this Royal wedding? The ball is being tossed between the Foreign Office and the Palace. It's the Palace who has the final say as it is being billed as not being a State occasion. So, it is the Queen, then who is responsible for the final guest list.

The Crown Prince of Bahrain whose government has been squelching democracy with horrific tactics was to be one guest. In the end, he withdrew his attendance. He had instated martial law and detained foreign doctors who attempted to help the injured rebels. The King of Swaziland who was marked by Amnesty International has used his own forces to violently stop even peaceful demonstrations. He is still attending. The Ambassador to Libya's invitation was rescinded but other despots and dictators still remain on the list. At the last minute, the invitation of the Syrian ambassador was withdrawn as Foreign Secretary William Hague deemed his presence at the Abbey "unacceptable". Considering that 400 people have been killed in Syria during peaceful protests, it was a wise move. "Buckingham Palace shares the view of the Foreign Office that it is not considered appropriate for the Syrian Ambassador to attend the wedding," came the missive.

But guess who is still on the guest list? The ambassadors of Iran, North Korea and Zimbabwe. All oppressive regimes. And yet, Gordon Brown and Tony Blair were not invited. I suppose despots and dictators are more welcome than Labour Party Prime Ministers.

What I found to be distressing is that any of these questionable heads of state had to be invited at all. If it is not a formal state occasion as the Palace has stated, couldn't the chairs be filled by the people of Great Britain? By the taxpayers who are picking up a lot of the tab for this four-day fest? Or by family members or even lowly ex-Labour MPs? Yes, it's important to be inclusive of the world leaders that you will interact with in the future...but won't a large State dinner later on suffice? Is it necessary to invite complete strangers and especially strangers who have supported the vanquishing of freedom with violence in their countries? I say not.

Why make a young couple, filled with hope,  the innocent pawns in an international game of diplomacy....when all they want to do is get married and live a good and decent life?  Do Will and Kate want to look out into the sea of people at their wedding and know that there are representatives of some of the bloodiest dictatorships taking part in their marriage ceremony? Probably not. Did they have a choice? Probably not.

We are living in an era of revolution. I hope that as William asserts his strength, he will have enough Spencer/Stuart (Stewart) blood in him to say, "No" to the old way of living  and no to despotism in all its forms, especially to the little dictatorship that insists on running the Palace with an iron fist.