Prince Andrew under fire for hosting King of Bahrain, whose regime stands accused of human rights abuses

Prince Andrew hosted the King of Bahrain at the Royal Windsor Horse Show today in a further sign of his steadfast commitment to the repressive Gulf state.

King Hamad bin Issa Al Khalifa arrived in London amid growing controversy as violence continues back home, and his son Prince Nasser bin Hamed Al Khalifa, who captains the Bahraini team at Windsor, faces a court challenge to immunity from prosecution over torture claims.

The Duke of York had been due to attend a Bahrain promotional event earlier in the day at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in Westminster but cancelled due a clash in his schedule. Anti-arms campaigners called on the Royal Family to stop advocating business with the “oppressive” regime and said Prince Andrew’s cancellation was the first sign the Royal Family’s support for Bahrain was on the wane.

The Independent understands, however, that the King was not expected to attend the This is Bahrain conference, which the organisers said received no financial support or sponsorship from the Bahrain government, and that he was being received by the Duke of York, the Queen and other members of the Royal Family at Windsor.

A Royal official said: “[Prince Andrew] has already committed to attend an economic event at Bloomberg and regrettably it wasn’t possible to attend both events. The Duke is, however, a long-standing supporter of the UK’s bilateral relationship with Bahrain as evidenced by his hosting of the King at Windsor.”

Prince Nasser faces a legal challenge in London to strip him of immunity from prosecution over allegations that he was implicated in the alleged torture of protesters during an uprising against the ruling family at the height of the Arab spring in 2011. The Bahraini government strongly denies the claims. A spokesman for the Bahrani prince has “categorically denied any involvement” of the prince in any alleged torture.

Bahranis joined the anti-arms campaigners outside the QEII centre to protest against the country’s poor human rights record and demanded the Government also sever all ties with the island.

Maryam Al-Khawaja, 26, from the Bahrain Center Of Human Rights, told The Independent: “The British public and those who are invited to attend to this conference need to have a clear understanding that we are far from the image that the Bahrain government gives on these occasions. Nothing is back to normal.”

Ala’a Shelabi, co-funder of Bahrain Watch, said: “This kind of conference is just one of the massive PR campaigns that the government has been employing over the past three years. The government has moved the battle ground to here in the UK.”

Sam Walton, 28, a member of the Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT), donned an Andrew mask and tried to get into the QEII centre but was quickly escorted off the premises by a security guard. He said: “Bahrain is trying to white-wash their reputation. Their human rights record is worse than a joke. The real problem is that Britain is still arming them. We are currently trying to flog them Eurofighter Typhoons. Today is the first time the Royal Family has waned in their support for Bahrain by Prince Andrew not showing up. I would like to think it is the Royal Family growing a conscience and deciding to stop selling arms to any takers around the world.”

Andrew Smith, also from (CAAT), said: “Every time the Government sells weapons and every time the Royal Family meets the Bahraini government we are not just giving them military support, we are giving them political support. It legitimises an oppressive and illegitimate regime.”

A string of human rights groups including Human Rights Watch have criticised Bahrain's human rights record. The state brutally suppressed protesters during its version of the Arab Spring in 2011 and there have been widespread reports of Bahrani protesters being jailed and tortured having demanded democratic rights for the Shia majority, an estimated 60 per cent of Bahraini citizens, from the Sunni al-Khalifa monarchy.

During a visit to Bahrain last month Prince Andrew praised what is happening in the country as “a source of hope for many people in the world and a source of pride for Bahrainis”. He used to visit often as a special representative for trade and investment. 

News
people
Sport
FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Sport
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
athletics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
music
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer Trustee opportunities now available at The Society for Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Volunteer your expertise as Tr...

Early Years Educator

£68 - £73 per day + Competitive rates of pay based on experience: Randstad Edu...

Nursery Nurse

£69 - £73 per day + Competitive London rates of pay: Randstad Education Group:...

Primary KS1 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam