From Mohammed bin Salman to Ben Roberts-Smith: Queen Elizabeth’s funeral guest list sparks controversy

Human rights campaigners have expressed shock at Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s plan to travel to London to attend Queen Elizabeth’s funeral on Monday.
According to an intelligence report released by US President Joe Biden’s administration in February 2021, the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia authorized the brutal murder and dismemberment of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate. in Istanbul in October 2018.
After the publication of this report, Prince Salman had become a bit of a social pariah in the West until French President Emmanuel Macron hosted him for talks in Paris in July this year, sparking outrage.
Now a new controversy has erupted over the Saudi prince’s plans to attend the Queen’s funeral at the invitation of Britain.

Hatice Cengiz, who was engaged to the Saudi journalist, said Prince Salman’s presence should not be allowed to “taint” Queen Elizabeth’s memory.

TURKEY-SAUDI-MURDER-KHASHOGGI

Hatice Cengiz was engaged to journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was murdered and dismembered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018. Source: AFP / Ozan Kose/Getty Images

“The Queen’s passing is a truly sad occasion,” she told the Guardian.

“The Crown Prince should not be allowed to be part of this mourning and not be allowed to sully his memory and use this time [of] mourning to seek legitimacy and normalization.”

The British organization Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), which is organizing protests outside the Saudi Arabian embassy in London, also condemned the visit.

“There are no circumstances in which it is appropriate to welcome dictators from the worst regimes in the world who abuse human rights to the UK,” CAAT’s Katie Fallon said in a statement on Friday.
“These despots are using the Queen’s state funeral as an opportunity to whitewash their reputation.

“Like Putin and Assad, it needs to send a clear message that dictators who orchestrate serious human rights abuses are not welcome in the UK,” she said.

Who else is invited to the funeral?

About 500 royals, politicians and world leaders will attend Queen Elizabeth’s full state funeral at Westminster Abbey on Monday.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has already arrived in London for the funeral. .

Other world leaders such as US President Joe Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern have also confirmed their attendance. at the ceremony.

While Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will not be able to attend the funeral, his wife Olena Zelenska will be present.
There are a number of world leaders who will be conspicuous by their absence.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who did not receive an invitation due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, will lead the charge.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a press conference

Russian President Vladimir Putin was not invited to Queen Elizabeth’s funeral in London. Source: AFP / Sergie Guneyev/Sputnik/Getty Images

Kremlin Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova expressed outrage, saying the UK’s decision not to invite Mr Putin was “deeply immoral”.

“We believe the UK’s attempt to take advantage of a national tragedy that has touched the hearts of millions around the world to settle scores with us during days of mourning is deeply immoral,” she said. said in a statement.

Leaders from Belarus, which backed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and Myanmar, where the administration is accused of mistreating the Rohingya people, were also not invited.

The Australian contingent

Mr Albanese and Governor-General David Hurley will lead the Australian contingent, which will include nine “ordinary Australians”, plus four Victoria Cross recipients, including Keith Payne, Mark Donaldson, Daniel Keighran and Ben Roberts-Smith.

While all the recipients of Australia’s highest military honor attend the funeral, it is Mr Roberts-Smith’s presence that raises eyebrows.

A man in uniform meets the Queen of England

A 2011 image of Queen Elizabeth saluting former SAS Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith Ben Roberts-Smith, at Buckingham Palace in London, after receiving the Victoria Cross. Source: AFP / POOL/Getty Images

The controversial figure is awaiting judgment in a libel case he has brought against the Age, the Sydney Morning Herald and the Canberra Times over information he says falsely portrays him as a war criminal and murderer.

According to The Guardian, Australian taxpayers are likely to foot the bill for Mr Roberts-Smith, who did not fly with the Prime Minister’s official delegation on the RAAF’s VIP jet, but will instead take a commercial flight to London.

As well as prominent Australians, ordinary citizens who have made “extraordinary contributions” to the country have also been invited to the funerals, Mr Albanese said on Tuesday.

Those guests include Australian of the Year Dylan Alcott, 2022 Senior Australian of the Year Valmai Dempsey and 2021 Senior Australian of the Year Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr Baumann.

Shanna Whan (a rural woman who overcame a lifelong battle with alcohol addiction and had her last drink in February 2015), Saba Abraham (owner of Mu’ooz, a non-profit restaurant in Brisbane ) and Kim Smith (the Tasmanian recipient of the Australian Local Hero Award) are also on their way to London.

Also on the guest list are Western Australian Australian of the Year Helen Milroy, South Australian Young Australian of the Year Trudy Lin and Danny Abdallah, Sydney’s father who forgave the drunk and drugged driver who killed three of his children.
Champion horse trainer Chris Waller has also been invited to attend the funeral but will not be able due to “circumstances relating to COVID-19”.

It is understood that a close member of Mr Waller’s family has tested positive for the disease.