2nd Mar 2021

EU chiefs snubbed by UK royals

  • "The wedding is not a state occasion. It is a private wedding, with invitees mostly with some sort of connection to the couple," said a spokesperson (Photo: Jean Mottershead)

All three EU presidents and the bloc's foreign policy chief - one of the most senior UK dignitaries - have been snubbed by the British royal family.

While the great and the good from around the world have been invited to the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton on Friday, not a single European Union representative has been sent a gold-embossed wedding request to attend the occasion.

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European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso does not feel put out, according to his spokesman, Olivier Bailly: "He's not upset. It is for the British royal family to decide who they want to invite."

"There were several royal weddings in recent years in the European Union, most recently in Sweden and Denmark and he wasn't invited to those either."

But he went on to lament how the bloc is ignored by European nobility: "It seems that royal protocol today is not to invite the EU institution leaders."

A representative for Clarence House, the official residence of Prince William, explained to EUobserver why they had not been invited.

"The wedding is not a state occasion. It is a private wedding, with invitees mostly with some sort of connection to the couple."

Beyond friends and family, prime ministers and governors general of the Commonwealth have been invited, along with nobles from across Europe and around the world, including Crown Prince Alexander of Yugoslavia, King Michael of Romania, and Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa of Bahrain - whose subjects are currently attempting to overthrow him.

Attendance from British government officials, from Prime Minister David Cameron down the secretary of state for sport has also been requested, but one of the most senior UK dignitaries, high representative Baroness Ashton, the European Union's foreign policy chief and member of the UK Privy Council, was left off the guest list.

On Saturday, it emerged that Queen Elizabeth may believe the EU is too large.

Joan Smith, a broadcaster and ex-partner of Denis MacShane, the former Europe minister, told the Daily Telegraph that at a Christmas Party, the hereditary head of state had said: "The EU is getting awfully big with 28 countries." When told that the bloc only has 27 member states, but that Turkey may enter soon, she continued: "Oh, we don't want Turkey to come in for a long time."

If Great Britain's monarchy is wary of the Union, the Holy See is more than pleased to recognise the importance of European leaders, who are set to attend the beatification of the late pope, John Paul II, in the Vatican this coming weekend.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek are all heading to Rome to witness the final step before the Polish ex-pope is transmogrified into a saint.

Barroso's spokesman said that the triple-headed clutch of EU chiefs will also "pay tribute to the historic role the late pope played in the second half of the last century. "

"The purposes and perspectives of the two events are very different. It's just coincidence that they happened to fall on the same weekend."

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