The Diplomatic Conundrum of Queen Elizabeth II’s Funeral

Hundreds of foreign dignitaries and royals are expected in London on Monday for Queen Elizabeth II’s state funeral, a security and diplomatic conundrum between privileges granted to some and controversial guests.

As Westminster Abbey only seats around 2,000 people, only heads of state and one or two guests per country would have been invited to Britain’s first state funeral since 1965.

Many crowned heads have confirmed their presence at the funeral of the ruler, who reigned for more than 70 years. Japan’s Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako will embark on their first trip abroad since ascending the throne in 2019.

Prince Albert II of Monaco, his wife Charlene, King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, Queen Maxima and Princess Beatrix, King Philippe of the Belgians, King Harald V of Norway will all be present.

Queen Margrethe of Denmark, now Europe’s only reigning queen, will also be present, as will King Felipe VI of Spain, but also her father Juan Carlos I, who abdicated in 2014 and is now living in exile in the United Arab Emirates. . .

To go by bus

US President Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden, who are at the top of the list of diplomatic guests, landed in London on Saturday night. Unlike other leaders, who have been asked to come to the abbey on authorities-chartered buses, Joe Biden was given permission to use his armored presidential limousine, “The Beast.”

“Can we think a little bit about the Elysée boss who had to tell President Macron to get on the bus in London?” laughs the Times on Sunday. The French President, who will actually be present, would have said “no” to the bus, but we do not know what arrangements were made.

Another difficulty lies in the placement of the guests, the Times stresses: it is necessary “to avoid any risk of anyone being offended by being placed behind a pillar and to ensure that no one comes to the fight”.

>> Details from 12:30 p.m. on the logistical and security challenge of the Queen’s funeral:

Foreign leaders arrive in London for the funeral of Elizabeth II / 12:30pm / 1 min / Today at 12:36pm

controversial guests

Among the guests are EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and EU Council President Charles Michel, who will make the trip despite the tensions after Brexit, as well as some controversial personalities.

Turkish Presidents Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro will also be in attendance, as will Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is regularly criticized by NGOs for gross human rights abuses in his country and has been expelled from the international scene after the assassination of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi Consulate in Turkey in 2018.

>> Read also: Arrival of foreign leaders in London for the funeral of Elizabeth II

Chinese President Xi Jinping will not be present, but his Vice President Wang Qishan will attend the funeral, while an official Chinese delegation was denied the right to pray in front of the sovereign’s coffin.

The affront comes after China imposed sanctions on British MPs who criticized its human rights record.

Some excluded countries

Russia and Belarus are among a small group of nations barred from attending the Queen’s funeral following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, a ban Moscow has labeled “blasphemous” and “immoral”.

Burma, a former British colony ruled by a London-sanctioned military junta, but Syria, Afghanistan and North Korea were also excluded.

“We are confident that dignitaries from around the world who will make the trip will understand that this is a daunting challenge and an unusual situation,” a government spokesman said Tuesday, anticipating criticism of the necessarily heavy security protocol.

More than 2,000 officers from across the country were recruited to help Scotland Yard provide security. Tribute incidents have been rare since news of the Queen’s death, but a man has been charged with disturbing the peace after exiting the line and approaching the coffin on Friday.

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