Sophie 'should sell Bahrani jewels'
Gems accepted by the Countess of Wessex from Bahrain's royal family should be sold and the proceeds given to victims of the regime, a former Foreign Office minister has suggested.
Sophie received two suites of jewels as presents during a visit to the Arab state, whose rulers violently put down anti-government protests last year.
According to a list of royal gifts from Buckingham Palace, they were given to her by King Hamad Al-Khalifa and prime minister Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Al-Khalifa during an official visit in December.
Ex-Foreign Office minister Denis MacShane told the Daily Mail: "Given the appalling suffering and repression of the Bahraini people, it would be a fitting gesture for the Countess of Wessex to auction these trinkets and distribute the proceeds to the victims of the regime."
A report published in November criticised the Bahraini authorities' use of torture and "excessive force" in the suppression of the unrest in February and March, in which more than 40 people died.
Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who has supported the pro-democracy movement in Bahrain, said: "Given the bloody repression of peaceful protests by the King of Bahrain, the Foreign Secretary William Hague should have never authorised Edward and Sophie to visit the country - let alone accept these extravagant gifts.
"Clearly, the Bahraini royals were using the visit by the Wessexes as a PR exercise in a bid to show that they still have international support and allies. Britain should have nothing to do with the tyranny in Bahrain. It should be isolated as a pariah state."