The palace told them to lower the flags


Why would flags in the UK be lowered in tribute to the king of Saudi Torturer Arabia?

Some MPs are wondering.

A decision to mark the death of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia by flying flags in Whitehall at half-mast has been criticised by MPs.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said it had asked government buildings to fly the union flag at half-mast for 12 hours in line with protocol that says this is appropriate following the death of a foreign monarch.

Any monarch, all monarchs? No matter what? Even when the country the monarch was monarch of just beat a man with 50 blows of a stick as punishment for having a website that advocated liberal values? Even then?

The Ukip MP Douglas Carswell said it was an “extraordinary misjudgment” in the light of the kingdom’s human rights record.

Well it’s too bad it was the Ukip MP, because he’s damn well right…except that I wouldn’t call it a misjudgment.

The houses of parliament and Westminster Abbey are among the buildings in London where the government guidance has been followed after King Abdullah’s death early on Friday.

The tribute was paid even though the sentencing of a Saudi blogger to 10 years in jail and 1,000 lashes for insulting Islam has thrust Saudi Arabia’s dismal human rights record into the spotlight in recent weeks.

It has rather.

Labour MP Paul Flynn said the tribute was “liable to bring infantile fawning over royalty into disrepute”. It was evidence of the establishment’s “extraordinary subservience” to foreign royals, he added.

In a statement, the DCMS said that it learned of the death of King Abdullah “with great regret” and that government buildings were “requested” to fly flags at half-mast from 8am this morning until 8pm.

It continued: “Any other UK national flags flown alongside the union flag when it is at half-mast should also be at half-mast. If a flag of a foreign nation is normally flown on the same stand as the union flag, it should be removed.”

Very punctilious. Nice attention to detail. Elaborate concern over proper attention to a man who is no longer alive. Callous toward a man who is still alive, and is in prison awaiting 950 more blows of a stick.

One Westminster source said the decision to fly flags at half-mast, which was widely criticised on social media, was taken at the behest of Buckingham Palace.

Monarchist solidarity, eh? Ugly.

Asked to justify its decision to fly its flag at half-mast, Wesminster Abbey said in a statement: “We always fly a flag. It is at half-mast because the government has decided to fly their flags at half-mast today.

“For us not to fly at half-mast would be to make a noticeably aggressive comment on the death of the king of a country to which the UK is allied in the fight against Islamic terrorism.”

Ahhhhhh no, that’s where they’re wrong. So, so wrong. Saudi Arabia is the source of Islamist terrorism, not an ally in a fight against it.

They know it, too. It’s not a secret. Information about the Saudi billions poured into Wahhabist institutions and groups around the world has been available for years.


  1. Al Dente says

    Just wait until we pass peak oil, then we’ll see how often Saudi monarchs get honoured in the UK.


  2. Pierre Masson says

    Many people are still under the delusion that an actual monarch (not the queen of England who is just a puppet) is anything other than a bloody dictator, with life-and- death power over their “subjects”. Monarchy is a form of totalitarism.

  3. grumpyoldfart says

    The protocols behind the decision would be so complicated that it would probably take more than ten A4 pages of typed text to explain it.

  4. sigurd jorsalfar says

    Of course he was a strong advocate of women, Vincent. That’s why he married over 30 of them. He would have married them all, if only he could have.

  5. says

    (addendum) Because, you know, a drug like cocaine will get you a death sentence in Saudi. But a drug that has more or less the same effect as cocaine, well, that’s the stuff of high state-craft.

  6. yazikus says

    Did anyone know about this about the late King?

    From his marriage to Princess Alanoud Al Fayez (arranged when she was 15 without her having ever met him), whom he has now divorced, he had four daughters – Princesses Sahar, Maha, Hala and Jawaher. The four princesses have been under house arrest for the last 13 years, and are not allowed to leave the country.

    House arrest. His daughters. 13 fucking years.

  7. yazikus says

    Gah. I’m still reading and wondering how I didn’t hear about this when it came out.

    “They once had a normal life for Saudi Arabia, but they are free thinkers, and their father hates that,” mom Al Fayez says.

  8. yazikus says

    And this (she was fifteen and he was 48 when she was ‘given’ to him in marriage):

    Within four years of the wedding, Al Fayez had given birth to four girls. This was unacceptable: She was, in the king’s eyes, incapable of producing a son, and so she was worthless.

    and this:

    Abdullah, who has had 30 wives and fathered more than 40 children, finally divorced Al Fayez sometime in the 1980s — but she didn’t find out until two years later, through an intermediary. In Saudi Arabia, a husband can divorce his wife without her knowledge.

  9. yazikus says

    Aaand more:

    All four women are routinely tortured, sometimes by their own relatives.
    “They come in, the men, our own half-brothers, and they beat us with sticks,” Sahar says. “They yell at us and tell us we will die here.”

    Ophelia, I’m sorry and will stop spamming up your thread. I’m just reading on horrified, wondering why something isn’t being done to free these women.

  10. yazikus says

    Lastly, bringing us round to now:

    “My father said that after his death, our brothers would continue to detain us and abuse us,” she says.

    While Obama is visiting, he ought to do something about this.

  11. says

    Jesus! No, yazikus, I didn’t know that…although I have seen references to imprisoned daughters a couple of times in passing and meant to follow up but didn’t. Link? But I’ll find it if you’re not still around.

    No need to apologize. That’s not spamming.

  12. John Morales says

    It’s kinda surreal to know that we live in an age where actual princesses are held in in vile duress in a far away land.

  13. Pierce R. Butler says

    If our beloved transatlantic cousins must be so punctilious about the protocols, why haven’t they mastered the distinction between “half-mast” (which describes the position of a flag flown aboard a ship) and “half-staff” (for a flag hoisted on land – where, last I saw or heard, Whitehall, Parliament, and Westminster remain, at least so long as the West Antarctic ice sheet stays put)?

  14. Pierce R. Butler says

    Ah, if only comments boxes were as sensitive as spreadsheets to the recurring problem of unbalanced parentheses…

  15. Rich Woods says

    @yazikus #13:

    I’m just reading on horrified, wondering why something isn’t being done to free these women.

    Perhaps the freedom-loving West could gather together and engage in a military campaign full of traditional shock and awe. Nah, forget it. That only happens to the wrong type of dictators sponsoring the wrong type of terrorism.

  16. Phillip Hallam-Baker says

    Oh it gets better, or worse depending how you look at it. The palace denies having made any such request. It would be a breach of protocol for them to do so. The Queen sent her usual form letter for the death of another monarch, absolutely no change in the wording.

    Buckingham Palace never flys the royal standard at half mast. So they really don’t get involved in that part of protocol. The order is given in the name of Her Majesty but it is the government that makes the call. It is not even automatic for the death of a US President or a Commonwealth head of government. They did it for Reagan but not Nixon or Ford.

    Some backbencher will no doubt put in a question to ask for a complete list of occasions the Union flag has flown at half mast since Bodecea.

    The conspiracy theory version is that Cameron originally ordered the flags lowered for the death of Leon Brittan, the former Home Secretary, then got cold feet after it was pointed out that Brittan was not just being investigated for his role in the disappearance of a dossier naming a ring of eight MPs, six Conservative who had used the now notorious Elm Guest House pedophile brothel, he was accused of

    * Having used the brothel himself.
    * Ordering Cheshire Police to drop an investigation into a series of child rapes perpetrated by Peter Morrison MP for Chester (also deceased).
    * Covering up the Elm Guest House matter.

    So far the first two attempts to hold an official enquiry have collapsed after it was pointed out that the first Chair selected was the sister of one of the men accused of orchestrating the coverup and the second turned out to be close personal friends of Leon Brittan.

    Its a nice conspiracy theory but a home secretary does not qualify for flags at half mast in the UK.

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