The passing of Prince Philip, a friend of the Gulf States

By | Rachel Brooks

April 17, 2021 

Above image: “St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, Berkshire” by JackPeasePhotography is licensed under CC BY 2.0.Today the Duke of Edinburgh was laid to rest in St. George’s Chapel. The Duke, as the consort and husband of Queen Elizabeth II, stood as a figurehead of England’s long time relationship with the Gulf States, which is held under intense scrutiny and has a prominent political importance as the Yemen crisis and other regional issues continue to put pressure on the Gulf’s modern events. 

The passing of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh of the United Kingdom has been felt around the world, no less than today as he was laid to rest in St. George’s Chapel. Prince Philip was an enduring friend of the Gulf States, and, at a vulnerable time in the history of the Gulf, his passing came with great sorrow. Arab News recalled this friendship as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, along with Bahrain and Oman, sent messages of condolences to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. 

A joint statement of solace was released by His Majesty King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on April 9. 

 

“‘We have received with great sadness the news of the death of His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and we express to Your Majesty, the royal family and the friendly people of the United Kingdom our deepest condolences and sincere sympathy,” the king said in a cable to Britain’s queen,'” wrote Arab News. The royal family of Saudi Arabia sent two unique cable messages, one to the Queen, and one to the Prince of Wales. 

In addition to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Oman, the Sheikh of the United Arab Emirates likewise sent condolences to the British royal family. 

The chorus of voices from the Gulf was likewise joined by friends in North Africa. Morocco World News reported a statement released from Rabat by His Majesty King Mohammed VI on April 10. 

“It is with deep sorrow that I learned of the passing of your beloved husband, His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. May he rest in peace,” wrote King Mohammed VI. 

King Mohammed VI and the royal family of Britain enjoyed a diplomatic relationship. In 2019, the two kingdoms signed a joint agreement that they would remain close as allied nations, even as Britain motioned to leave the European Union. Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke were invited to Morocco during the reign of King Hassan II and were invited aboard the royal yacht Britannia. The year was 1980. 

He was likewise remembered with grace in Israel, as his passing was addressed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. 

“Prince Philip was the consummate public servant and will be much missed in Israel and across the world,” said Netanyahu. 

The Duke of Edinburgh’s history with the Gulf 

Prince Philip was born on the island of Corfu, Greece in 1921. His family escaped to Paris at the overthrow of King Constantine I in the winter of 1922. In 1939, the young Greek-Danish royal joined the British Navy. He served with Britain during World War II. In 1947, he became a naturalized Britain, renouncing his Greek and Danish titles, and married Princess Elizabeth at Westminster Abbey, becoming the Duke of Edinburgh. His wife became Queen Elizabeth II in 1952. 

He was the longest-serving consort in the United Kingdom’s history, taking 22,191 solo engagements throughout his public service. Many of these solo engagements brought him on diplomatic missions to the Gulf. He made headlines many times throughout Gulf history, a constant figure in state visits to Iran during the latter days of the Shahs, with Israeli presidents and princes and kings of the Gulf-Persian region. See a photographic history at Middle East Eye as well as The National News.  The National News noted that the Queen and her consort had attached a “special importance” to keeping the strength of relations between Great Britain and the Middle East alive over the 69 years of her Majesty’s reign where the Duke of Edinburgh stood by her side. 

The British role in Yemen’s war 

One of the most controversial issues of Britian’s recent historical role in the Middle East, the following is a look at recent history of the British role in Yemen seen alongside the state figureheaded role of the Queen and her consort, the Duke of Edinburgh as well as other members of state. 

The stakes are high for Yemen. With eviscerating criticism in the press, Britain has silently navigated the dicey waters of the years since the conflict broke out. Britain sold weapons as part of its enduring relationship with the KSA, to Saudi defense forces, which was met with extreme criticism due to the number of civilians caught in the crossfire. 

Regardless of the leftist push back against it, the British government continued to negotiate arms deals and political processes with Saudi Arabia throughout the war, mediated between the figures of the state as Prince bin Salman met with the Queen in 2018. He likewise met with Prince Charles, Prince William, and then Prime Minister Theresa May and was likewise greeted by then-Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. 

 

Yet, Britain, argued British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt in 2019, had made the political process central to their priorities as a diplomatic influence in the region. This stems from a long history of British influence in the Middle East, which was firmly headed by the state figure of Queen and her consort the Duke of Edinburgh throughout much of this recent history. Hunt, in his 2019 op-ed, noted the importance of maintaining Britain’s historical relationship and mediation in the Gulf through this diplomatic process, which he expressed confidence in as political processes held in regions such as Hodeidah at that time. 

A recent Republic Underground news panel regarding the offensive against Marib. 

 

At a recent Republic Underground news panel discussing the offensive against Marib,the former Deputy Assistant U.S. Secretary of Defense Simone Ledeen explained that the American role was to provide Saudi Arabia with better intelligence to reduce the risk of civilian casualty as the Saudi air cover continued to take a stance against the Houthi incursion. 

As the American stance toward Saudi appears to be negative at the event of the recent administration’s take over, the role of other western actors has been looked at with prospective hope for Marib’s uncertain future, noted the speakers of Republic Underground’s panel. The UN likewise adopted a resolution in February demanding the cessation of hostilities against Saudi by Houthis without provocation. Even with increasing U.S. rhetoric against Saudi Arabia, the British-Gulf relationship continues to maintain the state legacy it has carried in uniform agreement with the reign of its current sovereign, see Arab News.