Face of the day

oldlady

Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that prohibits women from driving.

Many conservative Saudi women do not support loosening traditional gender roles and restrictions, on the grounds that Saudi Arabia is the closest thing to an “ideal and pure Islamic nation,” and under threat from “imported Western values”.

-Wiki

I wonder if today’s face of the day thinks that Western Values are currently under threat by ‘ Pure ‘ Islam  in the UK?

Whatever her personal views I just love this true story of how she was not afraid to offend King Abdullah.

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia died yesterday aged 90, and there has been some controversy over the tributes paid by world leaders to the ruler of a repressive regime that carries out public beheadings and bans women from driving.

Amid debate over whether flags should be flying at half-mast from government buildings, and Westminster Abbey, out of respect for Abdullah, it turns out, however, that our very own Queen had nailed the best way to handle the Saudi ruler many years ago.

This story, taken from former Saudi ambassador Sherard Cowper-Coles’s memoir Ever the Diplomat, was widely shared on social media on Friday; mainly because it’s amazing.

WINDSOR, ENGLAND - MAY 14:  Queen Elizabeth II is seen reflected in the wing mirror of her Land Rover as she follows The Duke of Edinburgh as he competes in the Driving Grand Prix Competition B - The Marathon event during the Royal Windsor Horse Show at Home Park, Windsor Castle on May 14, 2005 in Windsor, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

WINDSOR, ENGLAND – MAY 14: Queen Elizabeth II is seen reflected in the wing mirror of her Land Rover as she follows The Duke of Edinburgh as he competes in the Driving Grand Prix Competition B – The Marathon event during the Royal Windsor Horse Show at Home Park, Windsor Castle on May 14, 2005 in Windsor, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

The scene is that Abdullah, then crown prince but in fact de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia with his brother the king having suffered a stroke, was visiting Balmoral for lunch in 1998:

You are not supposed to repeat what the Queen says in private conversation. But the story she told me on that occasion was one that I was also to hear later from its subject – Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia – and it is too funny not to repeat.

Five years earlier, in September 1998, Abdullah had been invited up to Balmoral, for lunch with the Queen. Following his brother King Fahd’s stroke in 1995, Abdullah was already the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia. After lunch, the Queen had asked her royal guest whether he would like a tour of the estate. Prompted by his Foreign Minister, the urbane Prince Saud, an initially hesitant Abdullah agreed.

The royal Land Rovers were drawn up in front of the castle. As instructed, the Crown Prince climbed into the front seat of the front Land Rover, with his interpreter in the seat behind. To his surprise, the Queen climbed into the driving seat, turned the ignition and drove off. Women are not – yet – allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, and Abdullah was not used to being driven by a woman, let alone a queen. His nervousness only increased as the Queen, an Army driver in wartime, accelerated the Land Rover along the narrow Scottish estate roads, talking all the time. Through his interpreter, the Crown Prince implored the Queen to slow down and concentrate on the road ahead.

-independent.co.uk

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  • GoingRight

    I would say Her Majesty probably smiled sweetly and put her foot down on the accelerator! One gutsy lady that she is!

  • Nige.

    And what is the road toll in Saudi Arabia I wonder. Must be right up there with public be headings I would think.

    I will have to see if I can find out later.

    • Genevieve

      These figures don’t look good; maybe too much testosterone behind the wheel in Saudi ;)http://www.greenprophet.com/2010/03/saudi-arabia-death-toll-driving/

      • Rick H

        Does the road toll over there include those killed by bombs, insurgents, suicide bombers?

  • shykiwibloke

    I guess growing up in a world constricted by diplomacy has meant the Queen has found ways to make her point!

  • Genevieve

    Great story! Saudi women are banned from getting a driver’s licence, which in turn means that they cannot actually drive without incurring penalties. There are moves underway to reverse this ban but the process is incredibly slow, so for now they remain very reliant on their male relatives for any form of independence. Link below explains current situation.http://news.sky.com/story/1369464/saudi-arabia-mulls-lifting-women-drivers-ban

  • Cowgirl

    QEII rocks quite frankly – she is one of the great leaders of all time IMO.

  • Isherman

    As well as a driver, she also had a mechanics qualification.

    • conwaycaptain

      She kept in touch with her army friends.
      Read a story about here and a friend from N Ireland. Before the troubles and the Queen did her annual cruise on Britannia they used to anchor in a bay near the friends house and HM used to pop ashore and spend the day with her friend!!!

  • Momo

    I really admire her.
    It is a shame that her family constantly drag her down.

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