Controversy is surrounding the approval by French government of a building plan by the King of Saudi Arabia to build an elevator from his luxurious villa on the French Riviera to the beach.
The 79-year-old King Salman’s building plan also includes a staircase and wooden walkways leading from his opulent villa down to the Mirandole beach in Vallauris ‘so his feet never have to touch the sand’.
French government’s approval and consequent plan to close down the popular 100-metre-long beach, just six miles from Cannes, in the height of summer has however, ignited the fury of residents in the Cote d’Azur area.
The mayor of Vallauris wrote to French President Francois Hollande to say the lift, which will rest on a giant concrete slab, is against planning laws, the Times reports.
But the president fast-tracked permission for the structure ‘within hours’ of the formal request, according to the newspaper.
The French Interior Ministry announced the King Salman promised to remove all the newly-built facilities by the time he leaves the Riviera on August 20.
He is thought to arrive on Saturday but his exact schedule has not been made public for security reasons.
The King is already at the centre of a row after holiday makers in the exclusive area in the French Riviera were banned from visiting the beach next to his ‘for security reasons’.
Residents of Vallauris, a playground for the rich and famous, have accused the French government of crumbling under the pressure from the Saudi royal family and launched a petition to overturn the ban.
They say that if there is indeed a risk of terror attacks, King Salman should stay inside the villa where his family has holidayed for many decades
Legal action against the ban is being considered because lawyers say it is ‘unconstitutional’ to ‘privatise’ public land in the country – and the local council is seeking compensation for loss of income due to its closure.
‘We cannot accept that our laws are not being obeyed, whether it is the King of Saudi Arabia or the Pope,’ said Blandine ¬Ackermann, chairman of the association for the defence of the environment in Vallarius and Golfe-Juan.
The king’s holiday home, which once belonged to Prince Aly Khan and the actress Rita Hayworth, his second wife, was bought by King Fahd, the late Saudi monarch, in 1979. There followed a series of clashes with local residents, who won a court order in the 1980s blocking his efforts to close a footpath next to the villa.
The royals, headed by King Salman, own the villa, which Rita Hayworth used as the venue for her wedding reception. Sir Winston Churchill and Elizabeth Taylor were among those who used it as a holiday home.
Source: Daily Mail