Sweden's right royal gaffe?

By Natalie Rothschild, August 22, 2013
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Sweden’s King and Queen wear keffiyehs with the words “Our Aqsa and not their temple”. The royals denied any political statement had been intended (Photo: PA)

Sweden’s King and Queen wear keffiyehs with the words “Our Aqsa and not their temple”. The royals denied any political statement had been intended (Photo: PA)

Sweden’s royal couple have come under fire for posing in keffiyehs during a visit to a northern Swedish town as part of the King’s 40th jubilee celebrations.

The scarves featured images of the al-Aqsa mosque and Arabic writing, which translates as: “Our Aqsa and not their temple”.

Those who presented the scarves as a gift to King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Sylvia said they wanted to show their gratitude for having been welcomed to Sweden after fleeing Iraq.

Lisa Abramowicz of the Swedish Israel Information Centre said that the King and Queen were supposed to be neutral figures but that this event could be interpreted as a political statement. Ms Abramowicz claimed that “the royal couple were being used for PR purposes”.

In an interview with a local newspaper, the Iraqi couple said they were unaware what the text on the scarf meant.

“We asked if we could hand over the gift and it was OK. The King asked what it was and I explained it was a scarf with my country’s flag on it,” said the man, who is of Palestinian origin.

A court spokesman, Bertil Ternert, told local media that the incident had been exaggerated, that the royals only wore the scarves briefly and that it had not been meant as a political statement.

“The royal couple did not get a chance fully to understand the purpose or background but suddenly got these scarves handed to them and they were placed directly around their shoulders,” said Mr Ternert.

Last updated: 1:45pm, August 22 2013