The Duchess of Cornwall used an all-female security team that looks so badass
When Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall went to the United Arab Emirates, she did what royals usually do: visiting charities, meeting with public figures, and of course posing for photos. Nothing out of the ordinary, except that one of those photos has basically won the internet, showing Camilla flanked by a badass all-female security detail in hijabs and abayas.
Camilla and her bodyguards were featured on Clarence House’s Instagram, the official account for photos of Camilla and Prince Charles. (Yep, Charles knows what Instagram is. Who’d have guessed?) Pretty soon, a flood of praise was coming in for the baller AF female power on display. “I love it! #MuslimDivas,” wrote one commenter. “Something you don’t always see in mainstream media. Absolutely inspiring <3,” read another comment.
The women in the photo were handpicked from among more than 50 female members of the UAE’s elite presidential guard. Shaima al Kaabi, Basima al Kaabi, Hannan al Hatawi (standing behind Camilla), Nisreen al Hamawi, and Salama al Remeithi are trained in martial arts and combat, and carry concealed weapons when they’re on duty. Adding to their badass-ness, al Hatawi, al Hamawi, and Shaima al Kaabi climbed Mount Everest earlier this year. These women are so fierce.
Her Royal Highness with her all-female protection team during #RoyalVisitUAE From left to right: Shaima al Kaabi, Basima al Kaabi, Hannan al Hatawi, Nisreen al Hamawi and Salama al Remeithi. Earlier this year Shaima, Nisreen and Hannan also achieved the remarkable feat of conquering Mount Everest. ©Clarence House
But Camilla’s visit wasn’t about photo ops with amazing women; her main aim was to promote religious tolerance and female leaders in the UAE. She met with Princess Haya bint Al Hussain, wife of the vice president of the UAE, to establish a partnership between a children’s hospital in Britain and one in Dubai. She also visited the Dubai Foundation for Women and Children, the country’s first licensed nonprofit shelter for child abuse, domestic abuse, and human trafficking victims.
As for why Camilla selected the UAE for a state visit, its record on gender equality is better than many other countries in the Gulf region. According to the UAE’s constitution, women there have the same legal status as men, meaning women and men are able to access the same education and hold the same professions under the law. At least that’s the idea. I mean, we’re supposed to have that in America, and look what’s happened.
To take a more cynical angle, it probably also helps that the UAE is Britain’s longtime partner in the international arms trade; over the last two years, Britain has made arms deals with the UAE worth a total of $484 million (£388 million). When that kind of money is involved, it’s a good idea to maintain a positive diplomatic relationship.
However, this shouldn’t preclude the accomplishments and BAMF-itude of these amazing women. At a time of serious bigotry, their presence affirms the awesomeness of women and Muslims, and especially Muslim women. Right now, these five women are the heroes we need.