Mohammed bin Salman will offer his country’s condolences to the royal family following the queen’s death, a source told the Guardian, but there has been no confirmation whether he will attend the funeral at Westminster Abbey.
It will be the Saudi crown prince’s first visit to the UK since the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018 and subsequent British sanctions. These included travel bans on a group of courtiers close to the crown prince because of their alleged involvement in the assassination inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
Since Khashoggi’s death, US President Joe Biden, EU Council President Charles Michel and former UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson have all met with Prince Mohammed in Riyadh, often to urge the Saudis to increase oil production to help with energy prices. Johnson met the crown prince in March, but there has been no sign of the Saudi regime’s willingness to cut production or make major domestic reforms to how it treats dissidents or punishes human rights advocates.
No explanation has been given by British or Saudi sources about Prince Mohammed’s detailed plans for the weekend, but sensitive judgments are still being made about whether his presence at the funeral would represent an unacceptable security threat or distract from the commemoration. queen over his protests. presence can cause.
The United Kingdom in 2020 imposed sanctions on six named Saudis for the alleged assassination of Khashoggi. Some of them were senior advisers to the crown prince, including Ahmed al-Asiri, deputy head of Saudi Arabia’s intelligence services. Saud bin Abdullah al-Qahtani, adviser to the crown prince in the royal court. Salah Muhammed al-Tubaigy, medical examiner in the Saudi Ministry of Interior; Mustafa al-Madani, brigadier general and intelligence officer in Saudi Arabia; Naif Hassan al-Arifi, foreign intelligence lieutenant. and Major General Mansour Othman Abahussain.
Prince Mohammed has always denied knowledge of the attack. In 2020 a Saudi Arabian court overturned five death sentences for Khashoggi’s murder, in a ruling that sentenced eight defendants to between seven and 20 years in prison.
The crown prince last visited the UK in June 2018, when the UK welcomed Saudi Arabia for launching a major domestic reform programme.
As part of a deep connection between the royal family and the Gulf monarchies, King Charles III was a frequent visitor to Saudi Arabia. It is the most frequently visited country in the Middle East, having made up to 12 official visits since he was Prince Charles in 1967.
At one point he was learning Arabic because of his interest in Islam, while the Prince’s Foundation – dedicated to “realising the Prince of Wales’ vision of creating communities for a more sustainable world” – had satellite operations in Riyadh.