x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Iran lambasts UK's 'lavish' diamond jubilee celebrations

Protests by British republicans - a mere footnote at home - are enjoying prime-time coverage on Iranian state-run television channels, which have ignored the loyal majority's revelry.

Iran scoffed at the diamond jubilee celebrations marking Queen Elizabeth's 60 years in the throne, lambasting the monarch for throwing such a "lavish" bash while her subjects face "unbearable austerity measures".

Protests by British republicans - a mere footnote at home - are enjoying prime-time coverage on Iranian state-run television channels, which have ignored the loyal majority's revelry.

"Chants of 'Monarchy Out! Republic In' echo in UK", trumpeted a headline on the website of Iran's English-language Press TV.

Tehran's main Persian language channel, IRTV 1, declared that the Queen should shoulder some responsible for Britain's "grave economic situation".

It opined: "The extravagant spending of the Queen, including the expensive wedding of Prince William, her annual tours and festivities and the current diamond jubilee celebrations have added to the problems."

IRTV 1 featured a protester proclaiming: "I speak on behalf of millions of British people who are opposed to the monarchist system." Iran's Islamic revolution in 1979 overthrew 2,500 years of monarchy.

Tehran is particularly suspicious of Britain, which it vilifies as a cunning "little Satan" that pulls the strings of the "great Satan" America.

London withdrew its diplomats from Iran in November after hard-line protesters stormed and ransacked Britain's two diplomatic compounds in the Iranian capital. The rioters blamed Britain for spearheading Western sanctions against Iran's nuclear programme.

Press TV, viewed as Tehran's propaganda mouthpiece in the West, has a curious fixation with Britain's royals.

Ofcom, Britain's independent media watchdog, revoked the 24-hour channel's licence in January, saying it had broken licensing rules and failed to pay a record £100,000 (Dh572,000) fine for broadcasting an interview with a prisoner obtained under duress.

Press TV argued it had incurred Britain's wrath by its exposure of the "extravagant costs" of Prince William's wedding last summer and its coverage of rioting in British cities three months later.

The channel vowed it would continue broadcasting the truth about "the British royal regime", which it said controls Ofcom. Iran's state-run media stubbornly refuse to accept that Britain's monarchy is a constitutional.

Press TV headlined a story on Monday declaring the "UK Queen's power is not entirely symbolic", citing a "leading British political analyst".

He turned out to be was Chris Bambery, a member of Scotland's marginal International Socialist Group, who would have been flattered by that description.

Meanwhile, Iran's closet anglophiles meanwhile have avidly followed the jubilee celebrations on satellite televisions channels that are officially banned but easily accessible.

mtheodoulou@thenational.ae