Prince Charles likes dressing up but Saudi Arabia is not a joke.

I know he’s quite a nice old thing even if he has to have a valet to put toothpaste on his toothbrush. I believe that, from his rather narrow perspective, he means well. Yes, Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne, is probably a decent bloke if rather eccentric and over-sheltered from reality. I don’t usually mind him dressing up in silly clothes, after-all it’s one of his royal duties along with shaking hands and being nice to people he doesn’t like.


Does he really have to dress up as a Saudi Arabian in a country that the United Kingdom should be criticising not encouraging? I know, you don’t need to tell me, yes, Saudi Arabia is oil rich and it doesn’t like Iran but is that enough to warrant diplomatic crawling?

 Human Rights Watch’s 2013 World Report said:  ‘Saudi Arabia in 2012 stepped up arrests and trials of peaceful dissidents, and responded with force to demonstrations by citizens. Authorities continue to suppress or fail to protect the rights of 9 million Saudi women and girls and 9 million foreign workers. As in past years, thousands of people have received unfair trials or been subject to arbitrary detention. The year has seen trials against half-a-dozen human rights defenders and several others for their peaceful expression or assembly demanding political and human rights reforms.’

We in the smugly civilised West know all of this but we choose to avert our eyes in the interest of the balance of power in the Middle East. Don’t we really expose ourselves as amoral and cynical to those parts of the Middle East who have learnt to despise us and our hypocrisy? It is, of course, right for our politicians to negotiate with the bigots that make up the Saudi royal family but do we have to dress up like them?
Saudi Arabia continues to impose restrictive rules on women including a ban on driving, prosecution for wearing Western clothes in public places, gender segregation in the workplace and women are still barred from certain professions. 
Saudi Arabia still condones the arbitrary arrest and the ill-treatment of prisoners including the torture of men, women and children over the age of sixteen (or earlier if there are signs of puberty). Sentencing can include up to 1000 lashes, amputation and, of course, execution. Between March and September 2012, at least 69 people were executed including eight persons between the ages of 16 and 19. 
Saudi Arabia employs over 9 million migrant workers who make up over half of its workforce many of whom work in near slavery conditions without recourse to the country’s labour laws.
Saudi Arabia doesn’t allow human rights associations and regularly imprisons demonstrators and activists who protest against human rights abuses. 
So, OK, Prince Charles may have raised a few smiles in his dressing up clothes but I wonder if Saudi Arabia’s many victims saw the joke.



My novel, Stephen Dearsley’s Summer Of Love, was published  on 31 October 2013. It is the story of a young fogey living in Brighton in 1967 who has a lot to learn when the flowering hippie counter culture changes him and the world around him.

It is now available as a paperback or on Kindle (go to your region’s Amazon site for Kindle orders)

You can order the book from the publishers, Ward Wood Publishing:
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