The Queen has said London and Riyadh must work together to combat the threat of terrorism. Her Majesty’s comments came during a state banquet in Buckingham Palace held in honour of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, the first Saudi monarch to visit the United Kingdom for 20 years. More than 170 guests attended the event, including Prime Minister Gordon Brown and conservative leader David Cameron. But Britain’s third party, the Liberal Democrats, stayed away in protest.
“In a world where some people seek to exploit religion to undermine our societies, we must continue to work together to promote common values, strengthen mutual understanding and encourage appreciation of what is best in both our cultures”, Queen Elizabeth said in her speech.
Not all of the monarch’s subjects have been so welcoming, however. Controversy over Saudi Arabia’s human rights record and its arms dealings with BAE systems have dogged the visit from the start.
“Ok, they can talk to him, maybe they should talk to these nasty people but it doesn’t mean to say that he has to be feted with a royal visit,” said one protestor.
Dozens of human rights protestors and anti-arms trade activists lined the Mall to jeer the royal party as it travelled through central London. King Abdullah, ruler of the world’s largest oil exporter, is scheduled to hold talks with Gordon Brown later today.