The United Kingdom didn’t hesitate earlier this year when a former Russian spy and his daughter, Sergi and Yulia Skripal, were killed with a deadly nerve agent on English soil. Less than a week later, Prime Minister Theresa May said that Russia used “unlawful” force, and soon Russia was facing sanctions, The Atlantic reports.
Now, many are looking to England’s royal family and the British government to sever ties with the Saudi royal family in the wake of journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder.
Like the U.S., England maintains close ties with Saudi Arabia through trade agreements. The UK foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, responded to Saudi Arabia’s Friday statement that Khashoggi was killed in a “rogue operation” by saying this “does not amount to a credible explanation,” and demanded clarification about what happened to the journalist.
However, no sanctions have been placed on Saudi Arabia by the UK as of Tuesday.
The UK and Saudi Arabia exchange billions of dollars in trade deals and share counterterrorism intelligence with each other. But when it comes to taking action to cut ties with the Saudis, the English government has hedged.
“We have an important strategic partnership with Saudi Arabia involving defense and security cooperation, which has saved lives on the streets of Britain. We also have a trading partnership that supports thousands of jobs,” said Hunt.
Around half of Britain’s arms exports are sold to Saudi Arabia.
Lawmakers in England are calling for the government to take a stronger stance against Saudi Arabia, and address Khashoggi’s murder at least as harshly as Russia.
This puts the royal family in something of an uncomfortable position. The Saudi and British governments retain close ties and trade deals, and the Saudi and British royal families have been on friendly terms for decades. The British royals have received millions of dollars in gifts from the Saudi royal family, according to Express.
Now, some are calling out the royal family for not cutting those ties. Allan Hogarth, Amnesty International’s UK head of policy, said that “the appalling killing of Jamal Khashoggi is a worldwide wake-up call over Saudi human rights for politicians, business people and, we would hope, for our own Royal Family” in a recent statement.
Among the jewels that the House of Saud has given to the British royal family over the years is the stunning King Khalid necklace, given to Queen Elizabeth when she visited Saudi Arabia in 1972. This necklace alone is worth around $1.5 million U.S. dollars. A few years earlier, Queen Elizabeth received the incredible King Faisal necklace, presented to her by King Faisal. She has worn the piece several times since.
Princess Diana received an entire jewelry set as a wedding gift from the then-Saudi Crown Prince. The set includes a diamond necklace, earrings, and a bracelet. The sapphire earrings that were part of the set have been worn by Kate Middleton more than once.
This sort of gift-giving is common among royals of all nations, but the murder of Jamal Khashoggi has put a spotlight on the links between British and Saudi royals.