The Foreign Office was accused today of putting the Queen in the position of having to dine with despots as the row over a royal lunch with foreign monarchs intensified.
Denis MacShane, a former Foreign Office minister, criticised the guest list for apparently including the King of Bahrain, Hamad Al-Khalifa - whose regime brutally suppressed pro-democracy protests last year.
The Labour MP said many would regret Foreign Secretary William Hague's decision to approve the inclusion of the Middle East ruler.
His comments come after it emerged Queen Sophia of Spain was ordered by her government to turn down an invitation to the lunch.
The last minute snub was in response to a reported trip the Earl of Wessex will make to Gibraltar, a UK overseas territory which Spain wants returned to its sovereignty.