Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman meets Theresa May at Chequers on day two of UK state visit

Lucy Pasha-Robinson
Leaders attended a private dinner at the 16th century manor house: AFP/Getty

Saudi Arabia’s new Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman travelled to Chequers on day two of his state visit for a meeting with the Prime Minister at her official country residence in Buckinghamshire.

Theresa May presented the Prince with an antique family tree showing the descent of the al Saud dynasty of the kings of Arabia. Downing Street said the framed document was originally created by Queen Victoria’s consul general in Jeddah in 1880.

“The PM thought it would be a nice and appropriate gift to give,” the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said. Ms May was also expected to press him off-camera on the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, according to her spokesperson.

During the dinner they were served halibut with cucumber, radish and lemon, followed by Chiltern lamb rack with lamb shoulder broth and new potatoes with dessert of Yorkshire rhubarb cheesecake with ginger.

The Prince on Thursday also met the head of the Anglican church in London and promised to promote interfaith dialogue as part of his domestic reforms, the British faith leader’s office said.

“The Crown Prince made a strong commitment to promote the flourishing of those of different faith traditions, and to interfaith dialogue within the Kingdom and beyond,” a statement from Lambeth Palace said.

It comes just a day after the Conservative leader defended Britain’s links to security ally Saudi Arabia as the Prince’s arrival drew mass protests over Riyadh’s human rights record.

A fiery exchange in parliament between Ms May and opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn underlined tension in Britain over the Prince’s trip, which was aimed at building a broader economic partnership between the two countries.

Ms May and the crown prince used talks in Downing Street on Wednesday to lay plans for a £65bn trade and investment package, while also touching on the Yemen conflict.

A spokesperson said: “The Prime Minister raised our deep concerns at the humanitarian situation in Yemen.

“The Prime Minister and crown prince agreed on the importance of full and unfettered humanitarian and commercial access, including through the ports, and that a political solution was ultimately the only way to end the conflict and humanitarian suffering in Yemen.”

On Wednesday, he had lunch with the Queen and the Duke of York and was to have dinner with the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Cambridge as the UK rolled out the red carpet for the controversial figure.

On Friday, he will meet Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson for talks.

The Prince’s visit has caused widespread controversy over Saudi Arabia’s role in the war in Yemen, and the country’s human rights record.

Yemen has been embroiled in a bloody civil war since 2014 when rebels took over the capital city of Sanaa.

Saudi Arabia is the main player in a coalition supporting the Yemeni government against the Houthis in a war which has caused a humanitarian catastrophe.

The Prince has been the driving force behind a modernisation programme, Vision 2030, in Saudi Arabia – but the reforms have been largely dismissed as a “mirage” by campaigners.

Amnesty International UK director Kate Allen said: “We’d like to see Theresa May finally showing some backbone in the UK’s relationship with Saudi Arabia.”

Additional reporting by agencies