Prince Charles flies to Oman to attend mourning for Sultan Qaboos ahead of royal crisis meeting
Jan. 12, 2020
Prince Charles has travelled to Oman to take part in the mourning for Sultan Qaboos bin Said, before hurrying back for royal crisis talks at Sandringham.
The Sultan, who died yesterday aged 79 after ruling the Middle East country for 50 years, formed a strong bond with the royal family having met several times over the years.
Following the news, the Queen said she was ‘deeply saddened’ by the death of her ‘good friend’, who is believed to have died from colon cancer.
The Prince of Wales, who was first introduced to Sultan Qaboos in Oman during a 1986 royal tour with Princess Diana , will be attending a ceremony at the Al Alam Palace later today.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson will join him in offering his condolences in the capital Muscat, alongside Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and the Chief of the Defence Staff General Sir Nick Carter.
Prince Charles has already met the new sultan, His Majesty Haitham bin Tariq Al Said, who is a cousin of the late leader.
Mr Johnson is also expected to meet the new Sultan in due course, along with senior Omani government officials, amid heightened tensions between the Middle East and the UK.
King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands is understood to be joining Prince Charles during the three-day mourning in Muscat.
The Prince of Wales will then reportedly rush back in time for a royal crisis meeting at Sandringham, Norfolk, with Prince Harry, the Queen and Prince William on Monday.
Queen Elizabeth said: ‘[Sultan Qaboos’] devotion to Oman, to its development and to the care of his people was an inspiration.
‘He will be remembered for his wise leadership and his commitment to peace and understanding between nations and between faiths.
‘He was a good friend of my family and of the United Kingdom, and we are thankful for all he did to further strengthen the bond of friendship between our countries.
‘My State Visit to Oman in 2010 remains a cherished memory.’
The sultan overthrew his father in a bloodless coup with British support in 1970 and led Oman on a modernising path, while carefully balancing its diplomacy between Iran and the US.
Under his father, Said bin Taimur, slavery was legal, no-one could go abroad and music was banned. The country, roughly the size of Poland, had just six miles of paved roads.
The young Qaboos was sent to study in England in the 40s and ended up training at Sandhurst, and then with the Scottish Rifles Regiment in what was then West Germany.
His cause of death has not yet been confirmed, although he has travelled abroad for colon cancer treatment at least twice since 2014 and had just returned from a hospital in Belgium. He also reportedly suffered from diabetes.
Decades of speculation over who would succeed him were ended only after his death when it was reported his cousin had been sworn in.
Sultan Qaboos never married or had children and did not publicly name an heir, a tradition among the Al Said dynasty whose history is littered with violent coups.
By law, the ruling family had to choose the successor or a name would come from a sealed envelope left by Sultan Qaboos.
They reportedly rushed to talks over Friday night to discuss the nomination.
Oman News Agency reported: ‘His Majesty, may God preserve and protect him, received mourners from members of the Royal Family, excellencies, ministers, advisers, leaders of various sectors, and members of the Shura Council.
‘He also received members of the diplomatic and consular corps accredited to the Sultanate, community elders and senior state officials, which included citizens, civilians and military personnel.’
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