Sam Husseini’s encounter with Prince Turki bin Faisal Al Saud makes me wonder once again–why do we call a person like Al Saud a “prince”?
Al Saud was the longtime chief of Saudi Arabia’s intelligence agency, and later served as ambassador to the United States and Britain. His grandfather, Abdul Aziz Al Saud, declared himself a king in 1926–which seems like kind of a late date to be latching on to the legitimacy implied by a once-upon-a-time title.
Saddam Hussein came to power in Iraq in 1968. If he had decided to call himself “King Saddam,” would U.S. media have gone along with it? Would they have talked about Prince Uday and Prince Qusay? As long as Hussein was allied with Washington, they probably would have.
Or imagine that the British military decided to overthrow the elected government and install Charles Windsor as the head of a military regime. Would news reports continue to use his current ceremonial title of “prince,” or would they acknowledge that an unelected ruler in the 21st century is generally referred to as a “dictator”?
Except, of course, in the Middle East.