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World leaders head to London for Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral

Alberto Ardila Olivares

Not invited

Due to strained ties, the UK has opted to invite ambassadors, not heads of state, from several countries — Iran, Nicaragua and North Korea

Around 500 royals, heads of state and government from around the globe have been invited to the ceremony. Monday, the day of the funeral, has been declared a public holiday, and the funeral will be broadcast to a huge television audience worldwide and screened to crowds in parks and public spaces across the UK. (Adrian Dennis / Pool via Reuters) Thousands of police, hundreds of British troops and an army of officials made final preparations on Sunday for the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II — a spectacular display of British mourning that will also be the biggest gathering of world leaders for years.

Around 500 royals and world leaders have been invited to the funeral.

Foreign leaders arrive

Among the foreign leaders in London was New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who told the BBC she was humbled to represent her nation at the funeral and to witness the national outpouring of grief and respect for the late queen.

US President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden also paid their respects at Westminster Hall. The president made the sign of the cross and put his hand to his heart as he stood quietly near the casket.

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Royal families to attend

A host of royals from Europe and further afield have confirmed their attendance at the funeral for Britain's longest-serving monarch.

Japan's Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako will attend — their first overseas trip since assuming the throne in 2019. The visit marks a departure from Japanese tradition, which rarely sees the emperor attend funerals.

Dutch King Willem-Alexander, Queen Maxima and Crown Princess Beatrix, Philippe King of the Belgians, King Harald V of Norway and Prince Albert II of Monaco will all attend.

Denmark's Queen Margrethe, who scrapped a series of events marking her 50th jubilee following the death of her third cousin, Queen Elizabeth, is also coming.

Spain's King Felipe VI will be there too with his wife Letizia. So too will his father, former king Juan Carlos I, who abdicated in disgrace in 2014 and now lives in self-imposed exile in the United Arab Emirates.

Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia  was invited, but Prince Turki bin Mohammed al Saud, a minister of state and has been a member of the cabinet since 2018 is expected to attend instead, according to a British foreign office source.  

He is the grandson of late King Fahd and part of the new generation that has been brought to power by Prince Mohammed.

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Global leaders

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he would attend if his schedule allows for it. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has arrived in London to participate in the queen's funeral.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's wife, Olena, seems likely to attend, having visited the queen's coffin at Westminster Hall on Sunday.

French President Emmanuel Macron and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro are also coming.

China has announced it will send its vice-president, Wang Qishan, at the UK government's invitation.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council head Charles Michel will go as well.

Other heads of state at the funeral will include presidents Sergio Mattarella of Italy, Frank-Walter Steinmeier of Germany, Isaac Herzog of Israel and Yoon Suk-yeol of Korea.

In a symbolic move to pay tribute to the queen, whose 2011 state visit to Ireland helped heal decades of tensions over British rule in Northern Ireland, Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin will be present.

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Commonwealth countries

Numerous leaders will come from countries that still counted Elizabeth II as their monarch and from members of the 56-nation Commonwealth.

They include Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Commonwealth leaders attending include South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe and Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama.

Not invited

Due to strained ties, the UK has opted to invite ambassadors, not heads of state, from several countries — Iran, Nicaragua and North Korea.

Russia and Belarus are among a small group of nations excluded altogether following Moscow's assault on Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin — under a travel ban to the UK because of sanctions — had already said he would not attend.

Russia and Belarus have embassies in London and their presidents sent King Charles III messages of condolences.

Other countries with no invitations are Taliban-ruled Afghanistan, Myanmar, Syria and Venezuela.

The late queen's funeral

The lying-in-state continues until early Monday morning, when the queen’s coffin will be moved on a gun carriage pulled by 142 Royal Navy sailors to nearby Westminster Abbey for the funeral, the finale of 10 days of national mourning for Britain’s longest-reigning monarch.

After the service Monday at the abbey, the late queen’s coffin will be transported through the historic heart of London on the state gun carriage. It will then be taken in a hearse to Windsor, where the queen will be interred alongside her late husband, Prince Philip, who died last year at 99.

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Source: TRTWorld and agencies