Royal couple face rogue's gallery of despots in Abbey's front row

Sitting in the front rows, well ahead of the pop stars, sporting heroes and celebrities, will be figureheads from some of the world's most controversial regimes. While Colonel Gaddafi's representative has been officially uninvited (but only after the attacks began on citizens in Libya), diplomatic niceties dictate that the representatives of other unsavoury members of the London diplomatic corps, including those of North Korea and Iran, will be welcome.

Despite Zimbabwe having withdrawn from the Commonwealth in 2003 and Robert Mugabe being subject to a travel ban and sanctions, Zimbabwe's ambassador to London, Gabriel Machinga, remains on the guest list because the two countries retain "normal" relations. St James's Palace said that all heads of mission in London have been invited as a matter of course. Diplomats and heads of state are invited by the Queen rather than the royal couple, the Palace said. A recent report for the US Congress found that, while state-sponsored abuses were at a lower level than in 2008, Zimbabwe security forces continue to beat and torture opponents of Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF.

The presence of Prince Mohamed bin Nawaf bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia and Princess Fadwa bint Khalid bin Abdullah bin Abdulrahman is also likely to draw protests. Bahraini human rights protesters are staging weekly demos outside the Saudi embassy in London against the country's deployment of troops to help quash the democracy protests there. Last month Amnesty International highlighted the case of Mohammad Salih al-Bajadi, a 30-year-old Saudi businessman who co-founded a human rights organisation, who was arrested and held incommunicado after attending a protest.

A little further along the pew will sit King Mswati III of Swaziland. It is nearly four decades since political parties and trade unions were banned; three days of planned protest to mark the occasion were called off earlier this month after most of the leadership of the opposition was arrested by the security forces and a curfew declared.

There has already been anger in his own country, where more than a quarter of adults have HIV/Aids – the highest prevalence in the world – over the absolute monarch's inclusion on the wedding guest list in London. The king, who has an estimated fortune of $100m, is no stranger to weddings: he has been married 13 times and stages an annual dance where he can choose afresh from hundreds of bare-breasted virgins. Seventy per cent of his subjects continue to live in absolute poverty, enjoying fewer rights than neighbours in Zimbabwe, and six out of 10 deaths result from Aids.

Who's in and who's out

Neither Tony Blair nor Gordon Brown has been invited to the Royal Wedding. While Prince William and Kate Middleton have sent invitations to an array of politicians, war veterans, sports stars, musicians, and charity heads, the names of the two former Labour prime ministers are missing from the guest list.

Even the landlord of Miss Middleton's local pub will have a seat in Westminster Abbey on Friday. John Haley, who runs the Old Boot Inn in Bucklebury, the Berkshire village where the Middleton family lives, said he was privileged to receive one of 1,900 invitations.

It is thought that Mr Blair and Mr Brown were not invited because they are not Knights of the Garter, members of the most senior British order of chivalry. The former Tory prime minister Sir John Major does hold the title, suggesting that he will make an appearance at the event. At the wedding of Prince Charles and Diana Spencer in 1981, all surviving prime ministers – Harold Macmillan, Alec Douglas-Home, Harold Wilson, Edward Heath and James Callaghan – were in attendance.

The 200 invited politicians and diplomats include David Cameron, his deputy Nick Clegg, the Labour leader Ed Miliband and the Commons Speaker John Bercow.

Foreign royalty invited include the Sultan of Brunei, the King and Queen of Norway and King Constantine, the former sovereign of Greece, and his wife Queen Anne-Marie. Celebrity guests will include David and Victoria Beckham, Sir Elton John, Guy Ritchie and the socialite Tara Palmer-Tomkinson.

Louise Wells

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca alongside Harrison Ford's Han Solo in 'Star Wars'
film
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
filmIdris Elba responds to James Bond rumours on Twitter
News
Hackers revealed Oscar-winning actress Lawrence was paid less than her male co-stars in American Hustle
people
Arts and Entertainment
Ellie Levenson’s The Election book demystifies politics for children
bookNew children's book primes the next generation for politics
News
Outspoken: Alexander Fury, John Rentoul, Ellen E Jones and Katy Guest
newsFrom the Scottish referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Sport
Adnan Januzaj and Gareth Bale
footballManchester United set to loan out Januzaj to make room for Bale - if a move for the Welshman firms up
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones
film
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
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

Recruitment Genius: Panel & Cabinet Wireman

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Assistant

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you have previous experience...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Administrator

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015