Windsor Buddy Helps Put Down Democracy Demands
Charles Windsor’s favourite sheikdom, Qatar, is helping the feudal government of Bahrain put down protests by citizens who are demanding democratic reform. The oil-rich absolute monarchy is a member of the Gulf Co-operation Council, which has sent its security forces to help the Saudi Arabian military in Bahrain as they suppress demonstrations.
Qatar is classified by Freedom House as "not free". It was the main financial backer of President Morsi of Egypt.
Despite the street protests in support of basic democratic rights in neighbouring Oman, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, Qatar does not seem threatened as yet.
Mr. Windsor is set under Britain's feudal constitution to inherit the office of head of state of Britain when his mother dies and receives £20m a year from the British people. He is reported to have used his friendship with the absolute monarch of the Gulf state to help stop a property development in London he disapproved of because of the modern architecture proposed. The development is being financed by Qatari Diar, Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund.
Draft minutes of a meeting between Windsor's then “private secretary” Michael and the Chief Operating Officer of Qatari Diar, say that “The Prince of Wales (Mr. Windsor) wanted to assist his friends in Qatar and avoid criticism of them which he feared would stem from imposing a scheme which was not popular in London.”
Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al-Missned, the influential second wife of the Emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani has also been described as a friend of Mr. Windsor, According to the London Evening Standard “He shares an intense interest in charitable activities with the Sheikha, who is well known and highly respected for her good works, and the two have met on several occasions”. The feudal ruler’s wife has been awarded a laureate by the Chatham House think tank for her contribution to the improvement of international relations.
Qatar is an absolute monarchy and is separated from the rebellion in Bahrain by just a strip of water. Other oppressive regimes in the region are also facing popular rebellions or fear that they may do so.
According to Amnesty International Qatar criminalises “legitimate forms of freedom of expression”. Imprisonment is prescribed “for criticizing the Emir, for writing about the armed forces without permission and for offending divine religions”. Blasphemy and consensual “illicit sexual relations” are also criminal offences.
The controversial Al Jezeera TV channel was established by the Emir and is funded by him. Although it has been prominent in reporting popular uprisings elsewhere, there have been claims that it has been manipulated to suit the interests of the Qatari regime. According to the Financial Times the broadcaster "seems to play down the crisis (in Bharian) as much as Saudi-backed channels".
Charles Windsor is not the only clan member with dubious connections. In the Washington Post Anne Applebaum recently drew attention to his brother Andrew’s habit of dining with “polished thugs”, including some from Libya and Saudi Arabia. The so-called “prince” acts as a trade ambassador for the British government.
Recently it has been reported that the emirate's sovereign wealth fund is interested in investing in British banks. On his recent visit to Qatar to promote British business Prime Minister David Cameron seemed to take the side of the absolute monarch against calls for freedom by stating that it had taken Britain 700 years to achieve a universal franchise. In a confused defence of British arms sales to despots in the region he said “I simply don’t understand how you can’t understand that democracies have a right to defend themselves”.
Although the sovereign wealth fund of Qatar has substantial investments in Libya, Colonel Gaddafi has accused the Emirate of fermenting the rebellion in that country. In an apparent response the Qatari prime minister has called on Gaddafi to act responsibly and resign. It seems unlikely that he will do the same.
Both the people of Qatar and those of Britain must also rely on their heads of state going voluntarily as their feudal constitutions do not allow them to remove them by democratic means.