Hindsight can be cruel. In 1932, amid a global economic slump, the impoverished Saudis came to London looking for a loan. They also had an offer: would Britain like to try drilling for oil? A disdainful Foreign Office mandarin gave the fateful reply, writes Matthew Teller – no loan, and no drilling.

In the spring of 1932, King Abdulaziz – widely known as “Ibn Saud” – was ready to declare the foundation of a new united Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. To get the message out and to secure the support of the global superpower – Great Britain – he sent his son, Faisal, on a European tour including London.

Faisal arrived at Dover on Saturday 7 May and was soon installed in London’s fashionable new Dorchester Hotel. After a Monday morning audience with George V, he spent most of his visit at leisure, including visits to a Surrey stud farm and RAF Hendon. [Read more]

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