Ambassadors of Morocco
- Abd el-Ouahed ben Messaoud
Abd el-Ouahed ben Messaoud ben Mohammed Anoun (1558–?) was principal secretary to the Moroccan ruler “Muly Hamet” (Mulai Ahmad al-Mansur), and ambassador to the court of Queen Elizabeth I of England in 1600, to promote the establishment of an Anglo-Moroccan alliance. The visit of Abd el-Ouahed ben Messaoud followed the sailing of The Lion in 1551, and the 1585 establishment of the English Barbary Company, which had the objective of developing trade between England and Morocco.Diplomatic relations and an alliance were established between Elizabeth and the Barbary states. The last years of the 16th century saw major English successes against Spain, with the English victory against the Spanish Armada in 1588, and the Capture of Cadiz by the Earl of Essex in 1597, and also Moroccan successes against Spain at the Battle of Alcazar in 1578. Emboldened by these successes,King Ahmad al-Mansur decided to send an embassy to propose a joint invasion of Spain. Abd el-Ouahed ben Messaoud was accompanied by al Haji Messa and al Haji Bahanet, as well as an interpreter named Abd el-Dodar, an Andalusian by birth, under cover of a trade mission to Aleppo with a stopover in London. Altogether, the embassy numbered 16 (including some prisoners being returned to England), and sailed onboard The Eagle under Robert Kitchen. He reached Dover on 8 August 1600 Abd el-Ouahed ben Messaoud spent 6 months at the court of Elizabeth, at the age of 42, in order to negotiate an alliance against Spain. Abd el-Ouahed ben Messaoud spoke some Spanish, but he communicated to the queen through his interpreter who spoke in Italian. They met with the queen on 19 August, and again on 10 September.The Moroccan ruler wanted the help of an English fleet to invade Spain, Elizabeth refused, but welcomed the embassy as a sign of insurance, and instead accepted to establish commercial agreements.Queen Elizabeth and King Hamet continued to discuss various plans for combined military operations, with Elizabeth requesting a payment of 100,000 pounds in advance to King Hamet for the supply of a fleet, and Hamet asking for a tall ship to be sent to get the money. Discussions however remained inconclusive, and both rulers died within two years of the embassy. It has been suggested that the figure of Abd el-Ouahed ben Messaoud may have inspired the character of William Shakespeare’s Moorish hero Othello. The painting of Abd el-Ouahed ben Messaoud is visible at the Shakespeare Institute at Stratford-upon-Avon.
- Mohammed Bin Hadou
Mohammed bin Hadou, also Mohammad ben Hadou, Mohammad bin Hadu or Muhammad ben Haddu al’Attar, was a Moroccan ambassador sent to the English court of Charles II by Muley Ismail in 1681-82. According to the contemporary English commentator John Evelyn, he was the son of an English woman. He arrived in England on 29 December 1681, and left on 23 July 1682. He spent 6 months in England, in a highly commented visit. His visit was publicized in the London Gazette and he was the subject of occasional poems. These exchanges started 40 years of a shifting anglo-Moroccan alliance related to European conflicts, trade issues, Barbary Coast t pirates and the exchange of captives. Mohammed returned with a draft Peace and Trade Treaty which was finally not ratified by his king because of outstanding issues regarding the English military presence in Tangiers and English captives in Morocco. John Evelyn recorded that he was “the fashion of the season”, and commented on him that he was “a handsome person, well featured and of a wise look, subtile and extremely civile”. At the theater the ambassador behaved “with extreme modesty and gravity”. He struck a magnificent figure riding in Hyde Park. England Socinians wrote letters for Mohammed bin Hadou to remit to Mulay Ismail, in which they praised God for having “preserved your Emperor and his people in the excellent knowledge of that truth touching your belief in a onely sovereign God, who has no distinct […] or plurality of persons”, and praising “Mahomet” for being “a scourge on those idolizing Christians”. However, they also complained that the Qur’an contained contradictions that must have been a consequence of its editing after Mohammed’s death. During his stay Mohammed bin Hadou apparently married an English servant.Forty years of shifting alliances between the two countries would follow Mohammed’s embassy.
- Abdelkader Perez
Haj Abdelkader Perez was a Moroccan Admiral and an ambassador to England in 1723 and again in 1737. On 29 August 1724, he met with king George II and the Prince of Wales. His Spanish family name indicates his descent from morisco refugees.
- Lalla Aicha
Lalla Aicha (born Rabat, Morocco, 17 June 1930) is the eldest sister of former King Hassan II of Morocco. Her father was king Mohammed V of Morocco, her mother was Lalla Abla bint Tahar. Lalla Aicha was the Ambassador for Morocco to the United Kingdom (1965–69), Greece (1969–70), and Italy (1970–73). She is also active in the Red Crescent Society.