Hundreds of foreign dignitaries and crowned heads are expected in London on Monday for the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II. Between privileges granted to some and controversial personalities, the security and diplomatic puzzle of the guests slips.
Personal vehicle for one, collective bus for the others, the management of personalities is a real security and diplomatic headache. Between privileges granted to some and controversial guests, the organization must take into account hundreds of foreign dignitaries and crowned heads, Monday September 19 in London, for the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, who reigned for more than 70 year.
Only heads of state and one or two guests per country would have been invited to the first state funeral in the United Kingdom since 1965: Westminster Abbey can only accommodate around 2,000 people.
Japan’s Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako will come on their first overseas trip since assuming the throne in 2019.
Prince Albert II of Monaco, his wife Charlene, King of the Netherlands Willem-Alexander, Queen Maxima and Princess Beatrix, King Philippe of the Belgians and King Harald V of Norway will all be present, as will Queen Margrethe of Denmark, now the sole reigning queen of Europe.
The King of Spain Felipe VI will be there, but also his father Juan Carlos I, who abdicated in 2014 and now lives in exile in the United Arab Emirates.
Arrived Saturday evening in London, the American president, Joe Biden, and his wife, Jill Biden, gathered Sunday afternoon in front of the coffin of the sovereign. Unlike other leaders who were asked to come to the Abbey on buses chartered by the authorities, Joe Biden was granted permission to use his armored presidential limousine, « The Beast ».
“Can we have a little thought for the person in charge of the Élysée who had to announce to the president (French Emmanuel) Macron that in London, he should get on the bus?” Quipped the Times on Sunday.
« No » to the bus
The French president, who will indeed be present, would have said « no » to the bus, but we do not know what arrangements have been made.
Another difficulty lies in the placement of the guests, underlines the Times: it is necessary « to avoid any risk that anyone will feel offended by being placed behind a pillar and to ensure that no one comes to fight ».
In addition to the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, who made the trip despite the tensions following Brexit, are among the guests of sometimes disputed personalities.
Turkish Presidents Recep, Tayyip Erdogan, and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro will be there.
Saudi Arabia is expected to be represented by Prince Turki bin Mohammed Al Saud, according to a diplomatic source. Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) was sidelined from the international spotlight after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Turkey in 2018.
« Blasphemous » and « immoral »
Chinese President Xi Jinping will be absent, but his Vice President, Wang Qishan, will attend the funeral. The latter was able to meditate, Saturday afternoon, in front of the coffin of the sovereign, although deputies tried to prohibit any Chinese delegation to Westminster. The source of their anger: the sanctions imposed by China against British parliamentarians who had criticized its human rights record.
Russia and Belarus are among a small group of nations that will be barred from the queen’s funeral after Moscow invaded Ukraine, a ban deemed « blasphemous » and « immoral » by Moscow.
On the other hand, if the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, will not be there either, his wife Olena Zelenska gathered on Sunday in front of the coffin of Elizabeth II.
Burma, a former British colony ruled by a military junta sanctioned by London, but also Syria, Afghanistan and North Korea have also been excluded.