One of Queen Elizabeth II’s daughters-in-law was criticised on Saturday for accepting jewels from the royal family of Bahrain, which has been accused of human rights abuses.
Dennis MacShane, a former junior foreign minister, said the gift to Sophie, Countess of Wessex, who is married to the queen’s youngest son Prince Edward, should be sold and the proceeds given to victims of the civil unrest.
The countess received a “suite of jewels” from both King Hamad and prime minister Sheikh Khalifa when she visited Bahrain with her husband in December, an official record of the trip released by Buckingham Palace shows.
Last year, Bahrain’s Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa turned down an invitation to the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton after a public outcry over police use of excessive force against pro-democracy protesters in the country.
MacShane told the Daily Mail: “Given the appalling suffering and repression of the Bahraini people, it would be a fitting gesture for the Countess of Wessex to auction these trinkets and distribute the proceeds to the victims of the regime.”
Official gifts are not the personal property of the royal family and usually become part of the “Royal Collection” which goes on show to the public.
Britain has close trade and defence links with Bahrain, but amid pressure from rights groups London revoked licences for the export of some security equipment to the country.
King Hamad visited Prime Minister David Cameron’s official residence in London in December when the premier urged him to stick to his pledges of reform after a probe found police used excessive force against demonstrators.