Top 5 controversial royal wedding invitees

The inclusion of an African king, a Bahraini prince, and Kate Middleton's bawdy uncle raises eyebrows and even incites protest

Should Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa of Bahrain change his mind and attend this Friday's Royal wedding, human rights activists are ready to protest.
(Image credit: Corbis)

As we know all too well, the royal wedding is far bigger, bolder, and more inflated than your average nuptials — and so is the debate over certain questionable guests. While world leaders like President Obama and former Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown are notably not among the 1,900 people invited, the inclusion of Middle Eastern royalty and billionaires with ties to late South American dictators is sparking controversy. Here, some of the most disputed nods:

1. Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa of Bahrain

Bahrain's crown prince scored an invite, but, after threatened protests by human-rights activists, he had to change his RSVP to a no. As many as 31 pro-democracy demonstrators have been killed in Bahrain, and protesters say the prince is the "chief architect" of security forces' brutal response to the demonstrations. "We would like to see the British government fully condemn what is going on — not invite people to a wedding who have blood on their hands," says Nabeel Rajab, the president of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights.

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2. King Mswati III of Swaziland

The African king lives a lavish life in a notoriously poor nation and has a curious approach to matrimony: He holds a yearly dance where he selects a new wife (he already has 13) from thousands of topless virgins. His attendance at the more traditional royal wedding is provoking outrage: "Whilst the king and his entourage party in luxury in London, the people of Swaziland are being pushed deeper into poverty and those who speak out face arrest and even torture," says Tony Dykes, director of Action for Southern Africa. The British government might say they invited him because of protocol, but "if so, they are putting protocol before human rights."

3. American media tycoon Joe Allbritton

Critics accuse Prince Charles of inviting the 86-year-old media mogul, who's been linked to Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet and his murderous regime, simply because he owes Allbritton for transportation services rendered. The father of the groom has borrowed Allbritton's Gulfstream jet for private use in the past, and plans to use it next month to fly to Washington for an official visit. It will reportedly be the first time a private individual has funded a state trip. "Accepting hospitality from controversial American billionaires is normally the preserve of [Charles's] younger brother Prince Andrew," says Fay Schlesinger in the Daily Mail.

4) Gary Goldsmith, Kate Middleton's wayward uncle

Reportedly, royal aides had hoped the future princess's "black sheep" uncle would only attend the ceremony, but it seems he's also been invited to the reception, despite legitimate concerns over his bad-boy ways. Goldsmith, 45, was caught on camera two years ago cutting up what looked to be cocaine and boasting about his in with the Windsors. When hanging with Will and Kate, the wealthy property developer, who splits his time between London and Ibiza, has been known to act crudely.

5) Prince William's exes

Before there was Kate, there was Isabella (now an actress), Arabella (a Gucci PR rep), Jecca (a party events manager), Olivia (an Edinburgh University grad), Rose (the prince's first girlfriend)... and all of them are reportedly invited to the wedding. Perhaps in the interest of gender equality, two of Kate's exes, Willem Marx and Rupert Finch, are also said to be on the guest list.

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