The Queen is probably hoping we’re too distracted by the royal wedding to notice she’s ‘welcoming a dictator’

Queen Elizabeth II and Duke of Edinburgh
Support us and go ad-free

The Queen is facing criticism for ‘welcoming a dictator’ accused of torture to the UK as a VIP. On 12 May, King Hamad bin Isa al Khalifa of Bahrain will attend the Royal Windsor Horse show as a guest of the Queen.

Exiled Bahrainis and campaigners have spoken out about the event and the international recognition and legitimacy it will give the King. Some said the Queen is breaking neutrality rules with the invitation. And others have accused the UK government of putting arms sales above human rights. Campaigners also warned against a “Royal whitewash” of the abuses.

In Bahrain itself, much is made of the relationship with the British monarchy. Members of the Bahraini royal family also attended a birthday party for the Queen at the British embassy in April.


Over the past year, Bahrain has continued to conduct “large-scale” operations to crush dissent. Amnesty International has condemned the regime for brutally repressing freedom of expression and human rights.

Protests by Bahraini exiles have been met by both intimidation and violence in the past. But the annual show in Windsor remains a staple of both the Queen and King Hamad’s calendars:

Last year, Bahrainis in the UK who planned to protest faced severe consequences.

Police investigations took place after protestors were physically and verbally threatened in London. According to Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), Bahrain based family members of activists were arrested prior to the action in 2017, in a bid to suppress the protest.

Human rights campaigner Sam Walton called for people to take action:

While some users said that the situation was “no longer acceptable”:

“Welcoming dictators is not an apolitical act”

CAAT has organised a protest at this year’s event. The group has called for supporters of “human rights, equality, freedom of expression and peace” to join the demonstration.

A spokesperson for CAAT, Sarah Waldron, said in a statement seen by The Canary:

The royal family claim to be apolitical, but welcoming dictators is not an apolitical act. It is a clear sign of support for repressive and abusive regimes. It is a sign that the UK puts the interests of private weapons companies before human rights.

Bahrain is a major customer for the UK arms trade. Although dwarfed by sales to Saudi Arabia, the UK has licensed £82 million of arms to the Bahrain regime since the attempted pro-democracy uprising in 2011. CAAT said:

The UK should be putting pressure on Bahrain to stop its human rights abuses. Instead, in the face of increasing repression, the UK government has pursued a policy of whitewashing and appeasement in order to protect arms sales and the military relationship.

In April 2018, the UK government announced that they had opened a military base in Bahrain.

Activists also targeted Land Rover. The firm sponsors the Royal Windsor event and sells vehicles to the regime in Bahrain.  Walton said:

It’s crucial that those in power are held to account. And it’s vital the Queen is not used as a political pawn for the gain of the government. Surely cosying up to dictators accused of torture can’t be considered neutral.

Get Involved!

– Sign the petition to Buckingham Palace.

– Join the protest at the event.

– Join The Canary, so we can keep holding the powerful to account.

Featured image via Wikimedia/carfax2

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed