At the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, the presence or absence of these guests sometimes had a lot of meaning

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

BEN STANSALL / AFP

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

UNITED KINGDOM – This “the diplomatic event of the century”, said 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 be held this Monday, September 19 in the presence of hundreds of heads of state. Others are also conspicuous by their absence.

Among the expected leaders is Joe Biden, accompanied by his wife Jill, who was with him in London on Saturday. A presence that is not surprising given the ” special relationship” (“special relationship”) and close relations between the United States and the United Kingdom. But while the American president will meet with 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.

The representatives of the two countries assured that the postponement of the meeting was not the result of a dispute, reported the Guardian. However, the daily recall, the relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom has deteriorated due to disagreements on the Northern Ireland protocol, related to customs tariffs after Brexit. Previous meetings between Joe Biden and former Foreign Secretary Liz Truss have been heavy on this topic.

The invitations to China and Saudi Arabia were criticized

Despite a busy diplomatic agenda, Emmanuel Macron was 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 through his presence the link “ unwavering » his country with the United Kingdom and pay tribute to a “ eternal queen”.

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

Despite tensions following Brexit, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel will also make the trip. Among other expected leaders, we will 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 tensions between the two countries. British parliamentarians also expressed their dissatisfaction and wondered why the decision was made to invite a repressive regime, especially to the Uyghur minority.

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

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

Represented by Commonwealth countries… for the last time?

The Queen’s funeral is also a chance for the 56 members of the Commonwealth, which mostly includes former British colonies and 14 kingdoms, to meet. Republican tendencies swayed some territories, but all responded, including Canada, New Zealand and Australia, which all had British sovereignty 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 attend, 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 attend. Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish leader, will be there, although she is campaigning hard to organize a new referendum on independence from the United Kingdom.

The unity of the front may not last beyond the funeral. ” The UK is a total wreck. We know very well that some parts of the United Kingdom are waiting for the death of the Queen to express their desire for independence. », highlighted by Romuald Sciora, associate researcher at IRIS and specialist in international relations, on TV5 Monde. Antigua and Barbuda have announced their intention to hold a referendum on crown citizenship. This did not stop Prime Minister Gaston Browne from attending the funeral.

Crowned European heads and even the Emperor of Japan

Not surprisingly, many crowned heads from Europe and elsewhere 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 were all present.

Queen Margrethe of Denmark, a distant cousin of Queen Elizabeth and currently the only reigning queen in Europe, will attend. The King of Spain Felipe VI was there, but so was 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 so optimistic. For him, the funeral of Elizabeth II, the world’s most famous sovereign, was the same “maybe the requiem of Western and European monarchies”.

Japan’s Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako will make their first trip abroad since taking 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 attend but will be represented by British Archbishop Paul Gallagher. So he will represent the head of the Vatican state but also the head of the Catholic Church at the funeral of the one who is the head of the Anglican Church. The reason for the disappearance of Pope Francis, 85, has not been determined.

Russia, Afghanistan, Myanmar are not invited

What about the absentees? Russia and Belarus are among a small group of countries to be excluded from the Queen’s funeral after Moscow invaded Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin has already announced that he will not attend, but Russia is still judged “ blasphemous » and” immoral” not formally invited.

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

The PA determines that there are representatives “at the embassy level” for North Korea, led by dictator Kim Jong-un, as well as Nicaragua and Iran. An invitation for the form, to show the mixed relationship that these countries have with the crown.

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

They will meet on Monday morning among 2,000 visitors at Westminster Abbey, where Elizabeth II was crowned in 1953, for the high point of the tributes paid with intense emotion since the monarch’s death to the popularity of the planet. The organization of the state funeral, the first since that of Winston Churchill in 1965, represented an unprecedented challenge for the London police, and mobilized thousands of police and military personnel.

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