|On a visit to Canada, the Queen did NOT find it necessary to adopt the |
hosts' style of clothing. In Abu Dhabi, it's evidently another story.
Yesterday, Wednesday, she and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, arrived in Abu Dhabi for a five-day state visit to the Gulf including two-days in sunny Oman ("to join the celebrations for the 40th anniversary of Sultan Qaboos's ascension to the throne").
This report, a small and - without wishing to be unkind - not terribly weighty bit of news, got us thinking about which countries the Queen has visited, and which not. Also: what those visits are intended to say to the people of the United Kingdom as well as to the people of the countries she visits.
Travel very likely has lost whatever appeal it may have had in Her Majesty's earlier years. Even if she were not 84 years old (and she is, born in 1926), these are undoubtedly tiring, boring chores. Yet the visits keep coming. And the list gets longer.
It's a long list by anyone's standards. Digging around on the web, we have found 118 countries and country-like entities. (One source we saw says 129 countries, but having researched it we think they're wrong.) Here they are in alphabetical order.
Aden, Algeria, Anguilla, Antigua, Barbuda , Australia , Austria, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Bermuda, Botswana, Brazil, British Guiana, British Virgin Islands, Brunei, Canada, Cayman Islands, Chile, China, Cocos Islands, Cook Islands, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominica, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gambia, Germany, Ghana, Gibraltar, Grenada, Grenadines , Guyana, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Jamaica , Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kiribati, Kuwait, Latvia, Liberia, Libya, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta , Mauritius, Mexico, Montserrat, Morocco, Mozambique, Mustique , Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, Netherlands, New Hebrides, New Zealand , Nigeria , Norfolk Island, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Russia, Saint Christopher-Nevis-Anguilla, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Turks and Caicos Islands, Tuvalu, Uganda , United Arab Emirates, United States of America, Vatican City, Western Samoa, Yugoslavia, Zambia and ZimbabweNotice which country is missing?
At a gala dinner in London a year ago, a prominent British historian said the omission of Israel from the list of royal destinations is no accident. The British Foreign Office placed a ban on royal visits to Israel "...which is even more powerful for its being unwritten and unacknowledged."
In one of the UK's leading papers today, the unwritten and unacknowledged became slightly less so. In an article entitled "British foreign policy to change reflecting Arab concerns on Middle East", the Telegraph writes that the royal visit may be an indicator of:
"yet further withdrawal of traditional British support for Israel, with criticism of its government already more marked under Mr Hague than it was under New Labour government. In another indication of the Foreign Office's new sensitivity to Arab opinion, officials admitted to The Daily Telegraph that policies on the Israel-Lebanon war of 2006, Israel's invasion of Gaza in 2008-9, and its occupation of the West Bank and settlements policy were "motivators" for the Islamic radicalism that they confronted daily in the Gulf."A good thing we have Her Majesty the Queen around. Makes it a little easier to understand the direction in which the British winds are blowing.