The Queen hosted the crown prince of Saudi Arabia at Buckingham Palace to kick off a controversial visit. The Prince’s visit is set to be disrupted by protests. Protesters have taken issue with Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to Britain over the country’s human rights record. Additionally, Saudi’s role in the bloody civil war in Yemen has been another cause of unrest.
But the two heads of state were pictured shaking hands as the Queen welcomed Prince Salman, 32, to the UK. They were joined by the Duke of York for lunch at the palace. The crown prince will have dinner with Prince Charles and Prince William on 8 March. However, human rights campaigners are planning a protest outside Downing Street on the same day.
The visit was also criticised in the Commons ahead of Theresa May’s private meeting with Prince Salman. The prime minister insisted the relationship between Britain and Saudi Arabia has saved potentially hundreds of lives in Britain.
Her comments came after Jeremy Corbyn accused the Government of ‘colluding’ in war crimes by selling arms to Riyadh while it continues its military campaign in Yemen.
Mrs May said: ‘The link that we have with Saudi Arabia is historic, it is an important one and it has saved the lives of potentially hundreds of people in this country.
‘I will be raising concerns about human rights when I meet him.’
Meanwhile, asking an urgent question at Wednesday’s PMQs, Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable said: ‘Could I say that there will be widespread concern across parties at the fact that the dictatorial head of a medieval theocratic regime is being given the red-carpet equivalent of a state visit.’
He asked if the foreign secretary would demand an end to the bombing of civilian targets in the Yemen civil war ‘which Prince Mohammed initiated’.