At Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral, the presence or absence of these guests sometimes means a lot

BEN STANSALL / AFP The funeral of Queen Elizabeth II will take place Monday, September 19 in Westminster Abbey in London.

BEN STANSALL / AFP

The funeral of Queen Elizabeth II will take place Monday, September 19 in Westminster Abbey in London.

UNITED KINGDOM – This is “the diplomatic event of the century”, say the British media. 10 days after the death of Queen Elizabeth II, the funeral of the sovereign who died at the age of 96 will take place this Monday, September 19 in the presence of hundreds of heads of state. Others will also be conspicuous by their absence.

Among the expected leaders is Joe Biden, accompanied by his wife Jill, with whom he arrived in London on Saturday. A presence not surprising given the ” special relationship” (“special relationship”) and close ties between the United States and the United Kingdom. But while the American president was to meet the new Prime Minister Liz Truss in the British capital, the appointment was postponed to Wednesday, where they will meet in New York on the sidelines of the UN summit.

Representatives of the two countries have assured that the postponement of the meeting is not the result of friction, reports the Guardian. However, the daily recalls, the relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom has deteriorated due to disagreements on the protocol in Northern Ireland, relating to customs tariffs after Brexit. Previous meetings between Joe Biden and former Foreign Secretary Liz Truss were strained over this topic.

Invitations to China and Saudi Arabia criticized

Despite a busy diplomatic agenda, Emmanuel Macron is also present this Sunday evening at a reception organized by Charles III at Buckingham Palace, before going to the funeral on Monday. The French president wants to show by his presence the link “ unwavering » of his country with the United Kingdom and pay tribute to a “ eternal queen”.

The Head of State arrived in London late Sunday afternoon, as you can see in the video belowfilmed by a journalist from franceinfo.

Despite the tensions that followed Brexit, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel will also make the trip. Among the other expected leaders, we should see in London on Monday the presidents Sergio Mattarella (Italy), Frank-Walter Steinmeier (Germany), Isaac Herzog (Israel) or even Yoon Suk-yeol (South Korea).

China will be represented by its vice-president Wang Qishan, despite the tensions between the two countries. British parliamentarians have also expressed their dissatisfaction and wonder why the decision was taken to invite a repressive regime, particularly towards the Uyghur minority.

Note that representatives of the Chinese regime have been denied access to Westminster Hall, where the Queen’s coffin is on display, in retaliation for Beijing’s decision in 2021 to declare ” persona non grata” nine British officials who had denounced human rights violations in China.

The invitation sent to Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, also caused a scandal. He is accused of ordering the execution of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018… but he is also a big business partner for British arms companies. MBS has said he will travel to London over the weekend, but his attendance at the funeral is unconfirmed.

Commonwealth countries represented…for the last time?

The Queen’s funeral is also an opportunity for the 56 members of the Commonwealth, which mainly includes former British colonies and 14 kingdoms, to meet. Republican inclinations are shaking up certain territories, but all have responded, including Canada, New Zealand and Australia, all of which have the British sovereign as their head of state.

South African leader Cyril Ramaphosa, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe and Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama will also be present, members of the Commonwealth but independent for several years, will also make the trip.

Additionally, in a symbolic gesture to pay tribute to the Queen, whose state visit in 2011 helped ease decades of tension, Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin will also be present. Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish leader, will be there, even though she is campaigning hard to organize a new independence referendum from the United Kingdom.

The front unity may not last beyond the funeral. ” The UK is in full disrepair. We know very well that certain parts of the United Kingdom were waiting for the death of the Queen to assert their desire for independence. », emphasizes Romuald Sciora, associate researcher at IRIS and specialist in international relations, at TV5 Monde. Antigua and Barbuda has already made known its intention to hold a referendum on crown membership. This does not prevent its Prime Minister Gaston Browne from going to the funeral.

European crowned heads and even the Emperor of Japan

Unsurprisingly, many crowned heads from Europe and elsewhere have confirmed their presence at the sovereign’s funeral. King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, Queen Maxima and Princess Beatrix, King Philippe of the Belgians, King Harald V of Norway and Prince Albert II of Monaco will all be present.

Queen Margrethe of Denmark, a distant cousin of Queen Elizabeth and now Europe’s only reigning queen, will be present. 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. But again, Romual Sciara is not very optimistic. For him, the burial of Elizabeth II, the most famous sovereign in the world, is also ” maybe the requiem of Western and European monarchies”.

Japan’s Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako will come on their first overseas trip since assuming the throne in 2019, a break from Japanese tradition that rarely sees the emperor attend a funeral. The Sultan of Oman, the Emir of Qatar or the President of the United Arab Emirates, whose countries have strong commercial relations with the United Kingdom, will also make the trip.

The Pope will not be present but will be represented by British Archbishop Paul Gallagher. He will therefore represent both the head of state of the Vatican but also the head of the Catholic Church at the funeral of the one who was head of the Anglican Church. The reason for the absence of Pope Francis, 85, was not specified.

Russia, Afghanistan, Myanmar not invited

What about absentees? Russia and Belarus are among a small group of nations that will be excluded from the Queen’s funeral after Moscow invades Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin had already declared that he would not be present, but Russia still judged “ blasphemous » and “ immoral” not to be formally invited.

The British agency PA also indicates that Syria and Afghanistan, countries at war whose leaders have not been recognized by the international community, were not invited either. Same treatment for Venezuela, in political crisis for several years and whose diplomatic relations with London are cut, and Myanmar, victim of a coup in 2021.

PA specifies that there will nevertheless be representatives “at the embassy level” for North Korea, led by dictator Kim Jong-un, as well as for Nicaragua and Iran. An invitation for the form, in order to show the mixed relations that these countries have with the crown.

Between heads of state and royal families will also be around nearly 200 anonymous members of the Queen’s team invited to salute their devotion to the crown. Among them, details Sky News, his companions or domestic workers, or the president of an association which helps to pay for the funerals of war veterans.

They will meet Monday morning among the 2,000 guests of Westminster Abbey, where Elizabeth II was crowned in 1953, for the high point of the tributes paid in immense emotion since the death of the monarch to planetary popularity. The organization of the state funeral, the first since that of Winston Churchill in 1965, represents an unprecedented challenge for the London police, and mobilizes thousands of police and military personnel.

See also on The HuffPost :

Leave a Comment