April 24, 2011— -- Bahrain's crown prince has declined his invitation to this week's royal wedding with "deep regrets," saying that he did not want the strife raging throughout his country to tarnish the couple's celebration.
Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa wrote an official statement to Prince Charles in which he said he made a "considered decision" at the last minute, after hoping that the situation in Bahrain would have improved by the April 29 wedding.
Bahrain's Sunni monarchy has waged a crackdown against Shiite protesters seeking further freedom. The country's rulers imposed martial law in March, and are backed by a Saudi-led military force trying to quell the mass uprising.
At least 30 have died in the uprising since mid-February, according to The Associated Press.
Salman said he had been both "saddened and troubled" by recent reports in the British media concerning his attendance, which have included coverage of a petition to revoke his invitation that was circulated by human rights organizations and submitted to British Foreign Secretary William Hague.
"While these (media reports) have certainly highlighted a number of significant issues currently facing the Kingdom of Bahrain, they have fundamentally misrepresented my own views, outlook and position on recent events and thus, clearly sought to involve my potential attendance as a political proxy for wider matters involving Bahrain," Salman said in the letter to the Prince of Wales.
"As a result, I hope Your Royal Highness will accept my wholehearted apologies -- and those of the Kingdom of Bahrain -- but also recognise the circumstances and deep sense of responsibility in which they are proffered," the letter said.
The prince went on to highlight what he called the "long and valued friendship" that Bahrain has had with the United Kingdom, saying that it is a friendship that he knows is shared.
More than 40 foreign royals have been invited to the wedding at London's Westminster Abbey that will take place this Friday.
Salman sent Prince William and Kate Middleton "all good wishes for Friday and every possible happiness for the future ahead."
A spokesman for Buckingham Palace confirmed the prince's decision today.