World leaders must take a bus to the funeral... except Joe Biden: he can take his armored limousine The Beast
Sylvie Claire / September 19, 2022
Hundreds of foreign dignitaries and royalty are expected in London on Monday for the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II. Westminster Abbey can only accommodate about 2,000 people, so only heads of state and one or two guests from each country have been invited to the UK's first state funeral since 1965.
Many royalty have confirmed their attendance at the funeral of the ruler, who ruled for more than 70 years.
Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako of Japan will be coming for their first trip abroad since taking the throne in 2019.
Prince Albert II of Monaco, his wife Charlene, King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, Queen Maxima and Princess Beatrix, King Philip of the Belgians and King Harald V of Norway will all be in attendance, as will Queen Margrethe of Denmark, now Europe's only reigning queen.
Spain's King Felipe VI will be there, but also his father Juan Carlos I, who abdicated in 2014 and now lives in the United Arab Emirates.
After arriving in London on Saturday evening, U.S. President Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden paid their respects on Sunday afternoon in front of the Sovereign's coffin.
Unlike other leaders who were asked to come to the abbey on buses chartered by the authorities, Joe Biden was allowed to use his armored presidential limousine, "The Beast".
"Can we spare a thought for the Elysee official who had to tell (French President Emmanuel) Macron that in London he would have to get on the bus?" the daily The Times quipped on Sunday.
Another difficulty lies in the placement of the guests, the Times underlined: it is necessary to "avoid any risk that anyone will feel offended by being placed behind a pillar and to ensure that no one gets into a fight ».
Personalities sometimes contested have waited. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro took advantage of his visit to deliver a virulent electoral speech on the balcony of the Brazilian Embassy residence. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was expected to be in New York for a while, but he was represented.
Saudi Arabia should be represented by Prince Turki bin Mohammed Al Saud, according to a diplomatic source. Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salmane (MBS), whose possible appearance was causing teeth to grind, was removed from the international scene after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Turkey in 2018.
Chinese President Xi Jinping will be absent, but his vice president Wang Qishan will attend the funeral. The latter was able to pay his respects Saturday afternoon in front of the sovereign's coffin, although MPs tried to ban any Chinese delegation from Westminster.
At the root of their anger: the sanctions taken 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 excluded from the Queen's funeral after Moscow's invasion of 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 will pay his respects 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.