Prince William has travelled to Kuwait to offer his sympathies to the country’s new monarch and head of state, after the recent death of 86-year-old Sheikh Nawaf Al Ahmad Al Sabah.
The Prince of Wales reportedly boarded a last-minute flight with Foreign Secretary David Cameron to the Middle Eastern petrostate, which is nestled between Iraq and Saudi Arabia. The pair were seen being greeted by officials before paying respects to the late leader – in footage shot by local outlet, atv Kuwait.
William spoke with the new leader – Sheikh Meshal Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah – at Kuwait International Airport, with both seemingly visibly saddened. The conversation took place through translators, although William was still very attentive.
Sheikh Nawaf had been Emir – the Kuwaiti title for monarch and head of state – for just over three years, and when news of his death was broken in the country, its TV stations broke into programming with verses from the Koran, before making the announcement. He died on December 16.
State-run news had reported he was in the United States for ‘unspecified medical checks’ in March 2021, according to the Mail.
In a statement, David Cameron has said: “It was with great sorrow that I heard of the death of His Highness the Amir of Kuwait, Sheikh Nawaf Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah.
“He leaves behind a great legacy – the result of a long and distinguished career in the Interior Ministry, as Defence Minister, Crown Prince and latterly, as Emir.
“His contribution to regional stability, his personal commitment to global development and his work to bridge gaps between nations will long be remembered. I offer my profound condolences to Kuwait and its people at this sad time.”
Sheikh Nawaf had replaced the very popular Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah as Emir in 2020. Sheikh Nawaf’s predecessor, Sheikh Sabah, was known for his diplomacy and peacemaking across the region. Queen Elizabeth II had been “saddened” by his death, saying she “deeply valued his friendship with the UK”, while also praising his humanitarian work.
Nawaf took over when he was 83, meaning analysts did not expect a long reign. However, Nawaf’s successor, Sheikh Meshal, is also currently 83, and is due to be sworn in as the country’s leader soon.
Kuwait has just 4.2 million people, but is home to the sixth-largest known oil reserves, bringing it much wealth. It is a huge ally of the US, after the Americans expelled occupying Iraqi forces under Saddam Hussein, and hosts 13,500 American troops, as well as the US’s forward headquarters for the Middle East.