The King of Bahrain has thrown Buckingham palace's Jubille plans into crisis by reportedly accepting an invitation issued in the name the Queen to attend her Diamond Jubilee 'Sovereign's Lunch' at Windsor Castle next month.
Although the palace is still refusing to confirm or deny the attendance of the Middle Eastern despot, and has told The Daily Beast that the full list of attendees will only be published on the day, May 18, controversy surrounding the presence of Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, could overshadow the early part of the Jubilee celebrations.
One silver lining, however, is that the King of Bahrain will probably be long forgotten by the time the central weekend of Jubilee celebrations, featuring a thousand-boat flotilla not he Thames, rolls around in early June.
More than 50 civilians have been killed during pro-democracy demonstrations in Bahrain, and thousands more have been arrested in a brutal crackdown in the totalitarian Arab state, as the Shi’ite majority seek to break the power of the Sunni monarchy and political governance.
The issue led to fiery exchanges on a much-watched BBC political panel recently when George Galloway, the radical left-wing MP who declared his recent victory in the city of Bradford to be “the Bradford Spring” went head to head with a pro-government peer Baroness Warsi on ‘Question Time’.
Baroness Warsi made herself look foolish when she said the invite was "a decision taken by the Royal Family" and people should "stop being mean" to the Queen on account of the invitation.
Galloway said that the Prime Minister advises on the guest lists for such events (in fact, it's the Foreign Office, but Galloway's pont still stands).
Bizarrely, ultra-leftist ‘Gorgeous’ George ended up defending the Queen, insisting the guest list was in the hands of the British government, telling Warsi, 'You shouldn’t blame the Queen…It’s not the Queen’s fault.'
The king’s son, the Crown Prince of Bahrain, was last year invited to the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton but pulled out at the last minute in a move that spared the couple from potential embarrassment.
Royal writer Katie Nicholl reported in the Mail on Sunday yesterday, "The King of Bahrain has accepted the Queen’s invitation to lunch on May 18 and is therefore expected."
Sixty years and hardly a slip.