Britain’s senior royals help UK prepare for life after Brexit

Britain's Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, visit Jamestown Cafe in old British Accra, Ghana November 3, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 04 November 2018
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Britain’s senior royals help UK prepare for life after Brexit

  • Charles and his second wife, Camilla, began their tour of The Gambia, Ghana and Nigeria on Wednesday
  • The countries chosen are no accident and closely mirror the wider political and economic agenda, according to royal watchers and analysts

KUMASI: making tea with Osei Tutu II, the Asantahene or king of Ghana’s Asante people, and a reception with paramount rulers is all in a day’s work for the Prince of Wales.
As heir to a throne occupied by his mother Queen Elizabeth II for almost as long as he has been alive, Prince Charles, who turns 70 this month, has spent his life at such occasions.
But while his more recent overseas trips have attracted little interest at home, his latest — and those of other senior royals — are being watched more closely as Britain’s departure from the European Union looms.
London is scrambling for a deal before March 29 and Britain’s most recognizable and trusted brand — the House of Windsor — is helping to prepare for life after Brexit.
Charles and his second wife, Camilla, began their tour of The Gambia, Ghana and Nigeria on Wednesday, just as youngest son Harry and new wife Meghan returned from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga.
Not long after the referendum on EU membership in 2016, Charles’ eldest son, William, toured Canada, then Europe, in what was seen as a bridge-building exercise.

The countries chosen are no accident and closely mirror the wider political and economic agenda, according to royal watchers and analysts.
“The choice of place will be because that’s what the Foreign Office has requested,” Penny Junor, who has written several biographies on the prince, told AFP.
The royals’ closely choreographed movements at home and abroad are mainly prestigious photo opportunities, where invitations are highly sought after.
The prince, as the most senior traveling royal and representative of his 92-year-old mother, has diplomatic obligations meeting all three countries’ presidents.
There are ceremonies to attend, notably paying tribute to West African soldiers killed in two world wars before the annual Armistice Day on November 11.
Sunday’s spectacular “durbar” with traditional chiefs in Ghana’s second city celebrate cultural links within the Commonwealth that Charles will one day lead.
But it’s hard not to join the dots with politics and see the royals being used as a steady hand to help steer Britannia through turbulent waters.
Even the Asantahene recognized it, telling Charles: “To make sense of our history and the bonds that tie us together, we must have the courage to develop our economies, even more so when we have Brexit in front of us.”
Elizabeth Donnelly, from the Chatham House international affairs think-tank, said Charles’ current tour was the “soft-power follow-up” to Prime Minister Theresa’s May’s visit to South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya in August.
“This is about post-Brexit ‘Global Britain’ and strengthening Commonwealth ties and bolstering influence,” she added.
The prince, who is well known for his strong views on subjects from the environment to architecture, “will be aware of the wider context,” added Junor.
The Gambia, Ghana and Nigeria are Commonwealth members, just like South Africa and Kenya, the countries visited “Down Under” by Harry, and William’s trip to Canada.
Boosting trade with the 52 other Commonwealth countries has been seen as a way of offsetting losses from Britain’s largest trading partner, the EU.
The Commonwealth is potentially a huge market, with 2.4 billion people on nearly a quarter of the world’s land mass on all five continents.
Nineteen of those countries are in Africa, where Prime Minister May wants Britain to be the G7’s largest foreign direct investor by 2022.
In Ghana, British support has meant £2.0 billion in development funding in the last 20 years.
As in Nigeria — Africa’s most populous country — there has been a push for more trade and investment, support for job creation and promotion economic development.
At the same time there is an emphasis on Britain’s strong cultural and social links, particularly the sizeable diaspora, with the obvious hope of economic payback.
Isaac Arthur, an international trade policy analyst in Ghana, said the economic backdrop made sense given President Nana Akufo-Addo’s “trade not aid” policy.
Pushing the two countries’ “shared history” alone may not be enough in a place like Ghana, whose economy is predicted to grow at a rate of more than 8.0 percent next year.
Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron are among a growing list of potential suitors to have visited recently.
But in countries where traditional royalty play a huge part in life, “this is where a royal visit can differentiate,” said Donnelly.


Libya planning to extradite Manchester bomber’s brother

Britain last year submitted a request to extradite Hashem Abedi. (Ahmed Bin Salman, Special Deterrent Force via AP)
Updated 15 November 2018
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Libya planning to extradite Manchester bomber’s brother

  • Abedi's brother, Salman, detonated the bomb, killing himself, outside one of the arena exits shortly after the end of a concert by pre-teen idol Ariana Grande

Libya is planning to extradite the brother of Manchester Arena bomber Salman Abedi to Britain by the end of the year, Libya’s UN-backed Prime Minister Fayez Al-Sarraj told the BBC in an interview.

Britain last year submitted a request to extradite Hashem Abedi after the bombing in May 2017 in which 22 people — many of them minors — were killed.

Abedi detonated the bomb, killing himself, outside one of the arena exits shortly after the end of a concert by pre-teen idol Ariana Grande.

Hashem Abedi is suspected of involvement and is wanted by Manchester police on charges of murder, attempted murder and conspiracy to cause explosions.

In an interview with the BBC on the sidelines of an international conference in Italy, Al-Sarraj said: “I think from here to the end of this year we will finish all the legal procedures in Libya.

“We are fully cooperating because we understand the suffering of the families of the victims of this terrorist attack.

“According to the general prosecutor we can extradite. After we complete the legal process in Libya it is only a matter of time.”

When Britain first made the extradition request in November 2017, the armed group holding him refused it.

The Manchester Arena bombing was Britain’s worst terror attack in more than a decade.

Salman Abedi was born in Manchester in 1994, to parents who had been granted asylum after fleeing Muammer Qaddafi’s regime.

He was in Libya just days before the attack.