The awarding of France's top honour to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, which sparked a storm of criticism, was done at the royal's request, a French magazine has reported.
Causette, a monthly women's magazine, published an exchange of emails between French diplomats ahead of the awarding of the Legion d'Honneur on 7 March.
President Francois Hollande awarded the honour to bin Nayef, who is also Saudi interior minister, during a visit to the Gulf nation.…
According to one of the emails published by the magazine, Prince Mohammed requested the award "at a time in which he seeks to boost his international stature".
"I know some are raising questions about honouring the prince... certainly the kingdom does not have a good reputation," reads the email attributed to France's ambassador to Saudi Arabia, addressed to advisers in the presidency and foreign ministry.
"No reason not to do it: It must be discreet concerning the media, without covering it up," said the foreign ministry's North Africa/Middle East director.
He said that if questioned why the award should be given, the government "should respond '(for the) fight against Daesh and economic partnership'. Of course, let's add, for good measure, elements about human rights." ….