“It is not a state occasion ... it is a private wedding and the couple are entitled to invite whoever they want to it"
So says a St James Palace spokesman to the Sunday Telegraph, in explaining that the invitation to former Prime Minister Sir John Major is a personal one.
The Sunday Telegraph reports that "While Prince William and Miss Middleton have taken a “hands on” role in overseeing the guest list, the invitations sent out to politicians and foreign dignitaries will have been closely monitored by Buckingham Palace". However, there is a rather contrasting emphasis placed in a St James Palace statement to another Sunday newspaper, the Independent on Sunday, which was inquiring about foreign rather than domestic guests.
St James's Palace defended the wedding list yesterday, insisting the Foreign Office had approved it. "Invitations are extended from the Queen following the long-held tradition of inviting other crowned heads of state; we have taken advice from the Foreign Office about their continued inclusion," a spokesman said.
So perhaps the question of who wants the pro-Mugabe Ambassador of Zimbabwe, Gabriel Machinga, at the wedding remains something of a mystery.
Mr Machinga would seem an odd choice for the Royal couple to share their happy day with. But he would seem a rather odd choice for Foreign Secretary William Hague and his Foreign Office officials too.
Zimbabwean human rights groups have called for the invitation to be rescinded. The exile group Zimbabwe Vigil has written to William Hague to request this.
“Ambassador Machinga has always made it clear that he represents Mugabe and not the people of Zimbabwe or even their coalition government,” said Vigil Coordinator Rose Benton.
As Clifford Chitupa Mashiri writes in the Zimbabwean
It does not require a UN resolution for the Right Honourable William Hague, the British Foreign Secretary to withdraw the invitation to the royal wedding. It is not too late to act. It would be a great symbolic gesture of solidarity with the suffering people of Zimbabwe
It would be in very bad taste for Britain to ignore protest voices of Zimbabwe’s human rights activists and civil society. International isolation of Mugabe’s regime has proved effective in getting political reforms albeit a case of too little, too late.
It could be argued that the justification of the invitation by Britain that it has diplomatic relations with Zimbabwe is a lame excuse for wanting to warm up to dictator Robert Mugabe who has threatened to seize UK businesses in retaliation to targeted sanctions slapped on him and his inner circle for rights abuses.
Sanctions remain in place against Mugabe in an effort to create pressure for free and fair elections, and for the ZanuPF-MDC power-sharing coalition to keep its commitments to respect human rights.
The Foreign Office reports that human rights issues "remain a serious concern", with Amnesty International last week reporting on how human rights violations have continued unabated under the new government of national unity.
Zimbabwe quit the Commonwealth in 2003, when its suspension over human rights abuses and breaches of the democratic principles of the Harare Declaration was confirmed. Commonwealth human rights groups hope it will return to the organisation in the future, a hope shared by the British government too. Mugabe has said he would never rejoin the "evil organisation".
Inviting the ambassador was a mistake - whether by Buckingham Palace, the Foreign Office or, most probably, both. Zimbabwean human rights campaigners are right to call for it to be withdrawn.
Another unwelcome wedding guest is the Crown Prince of Bahrain, as The Observer reports.
The British government has been extremely muted in its criticisms of the Bahrain government's violent suppression of protestors, a government which has enjoyed close relations with both the UK government and the Royal family,
Physicians for Human Rights, a human rights group which has won the Nobel Peace Prize, released a report on Friday, protesting the arrests of medical professionals who treated injured human rights protesters, targetted because they have "evidence of atrocities committed by the authorities, security forces and riot police", according to the report. The Bahrain government denies the report.
The Guardian special report on Bahrain offers extensive coverage on the crackdown against human rights protests.
The King of Swaziland is still heading for a no expenses spared trip to the Dorchester Hotel with an entourage of around fifty people before attending the wedding.
Domestic opponents say this is rather undermining the "all in this together" message of his autocratic government during a severe economic crisis, as South African newspaper The Mail & Guardian reports.
Mary Pais Da Silva, coordinator of the Swaziland Democracy Campaign, condemned Mswati for making expensive travel plans while nearly 70% of his people live in absolute poverty. "If we had it our way, he wouldn't go anywhere," she said. "Right now, Swaziland is in an economic crisis. The government talks about belt-tightening but it doesn't seem to apply to the king. It must apply across the board. "
The campaign group Action for Southern Africa, the successor organisation to the Anti-Apartheid Movement, joined the criticism. Its director, Tony Dykes, said: "It is astonishing that the Palace, presumably with advice from the British government, have invited the king of Swaziland to the royal wedding. "They may claim they have done so due to some kind of protocol; if so, they are putting protocol before human rights. Whilst the king and his entourage party in luxury in London, the people of Swaziland are being pushed deeper into poverty and those who speak out face arrest and even torture."