Kate, Duchess of Cambridge
The Duchess of Cambridge and Princes William and Harry have ignored an international boycott of hotels owned by the anti-gay Sultan of Brunei.
The Dorchester Collection hotel chain is being boycotted by human rights groups and a number of public figures, including business magnate Richard Branson and American Vogue’s Anna Wintour, after the sultan imposed a new sharia penal code that will allow for the stoning to death of gays and lesbians.
According to the Daily Mail, Kate secretly attended her cousin’s wedding at the Mayfair Dorchester Hotel in London on Friday. Seemingly aware of possible controversy, she used a blacked-out vehicle to drive in and out of the hotel’s underground car park for the function.
An insider told the newspaper: “The wedding was a big boost for the hotel… It shows that the royals will not let the Brunei business keep them away.”
On Saturday, Princes William and Harry played polo at a charity match at Coworth Park in Berkshire, a Dorchester country house hotel. The event was also attended by the likes of actress Dame Helen Mirren.
Meanwhile, in the US, the hotel chain announced on Monday that it had cancelled its annual fashion competition and gala, known as the Dorchester Collection Fashion Prize.
The decision by the hotel company was made within hours of Dorchester learning of a planned protest by American LGBT rights group, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), on Tuesday.
“We applaud the many designers, companies, and leaders in the fashion industry who have refused to turn a blind eye to the Sultan’s blatant disregard for the human rights of all Brueneians,” said Ty Cobb, HRC’s director of Global Engagement.
“The fact is that the Dorchester Collection’s profits belong to a regime that could start stoning women and LGBT Bruneians as soon as next year, and the cancellation of this prize is yet another sign that the Sultan’s company is feeling the impact of the worldwide movement to reject the Sultan’s horrific new laws.”
The HRC recently criticised the Dorchester Collection for “shamefully parading its own employees” out on social media and for reporters “in a desperate attempt to divert attention away from actions taken against the Sultan of Brunei’s hotels.”
Actor Russell Crowe sparked controversy after he rejected the hotel’s boycott. He stressed that while he supports the LGBT community, he does not believe that the hotel’s staff should suffer as a result of the Sultan’s actions.
“The laws that Brunei are adopting are hideous… however, throwing the staff of Dorchester Collection Hotels under the bus to make a political point is not acceptable to me,” he recently tweeted. He instead urged people to lobby their governments to stop trading with Brunei.
Amnesty International said that Brunei’s new penal code, which came into effect on the 1st of May, was taking the country “back to the dark ages when it comes to human rights.”
The new code, which will run concurrently with the existing civil law system, allows for cruel and inhuman punishments including stoning to death, whipping and amputation.