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Queen’s funeral: no invitations to Russia, Belarus or Myanmar

Invitations to the Queen’s state funeral have not been sent to Russia, Belarus or Myanmar, while Iran will only be represented at ambassadorial level, Whitehall sources said.

The event will see around 500 dignitaries from around the world descend on London to pay their last respects to the long-reigning monarch.

They will join members of the royal family, past and present British prime ministers and key figures in public life at Westminster Abbey – the historic church that can hold around 2,000 people – at 11am next Monday.

“It’s the biggest international event we’ve had in decades,” a Whitehall source said.

The source compared the logistical task to organizing “hundreds of state visits” in a matter of days. Normally, there are only two or three a year.

It presents a huge logistical, diplomatic and security challenge, with practice races taking place in the dead of night.

Invitations were sent out over the weekend to heads of state of nations with which the UK has diplomatic relations. For most countries, this means the head of state plus a guest.

However, no invitations have been sent to the leaders of Russia – which continues its attack on Ukraine, Belarus – which backed its neighbor in the invasion, and Myanmar – where the military has taken over. during a coup last year.

No guest list has yet been released, but US President Joe Biden was among the first to say he will be flying with his wife, Jill.

US President Joe Biden will attend the Queen’s funeral (Chris Jackson/PA)

Leaders from most Commonwealth countries are expected, with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern saying she will make the nearly 24-hour trip with a delegation of five others.

His Canadian and Australian counterparts, Justin Trudeau and Anthony Albanese, have also confirmed their attendance.

Mr Albanese announced he would not be traveling alone, tweeting that at the invitation of Buckingham Palace he and Governor-General David Hurley would be joined by “10 Australians who have made extraordinary contributions to their communities”.

Frenchman Emmanuel Macron, German Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Italian Sergio Mattarella, Turkish Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Brazilian Jair Bolsonaro are among the presidents present, alongside Ursula von der Leyen from the European Commission.

King Felipe of Spain and his wife, Queen Letizia, are among the members of the European royal family who will be present.

Japan’s Emperor Naruhito is also expected to visit London in what would be his first overseas trip since assuming the throne in 2019.

The guest list for the Duke of Edinburgh’s memorial service could give an idea of ​​who else might be coming. The 1,800-person congregation included around 30 foreign royals, including Prince Albert of Monaco, Queen Margrethe of Denmark, and King Harald and Queen Sonja of Norway.

(PA graphics)

But the trip is not believed to be made by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who took the time to stage his country’s fightback against the forces of Russian President Vladimir Putin to sign a book of condolences for the Queen.

Arrival times vary from leader to leader, Downing Street said.

Liz Truss is not expected to hold “official” bilateral meetings with world leaders during the period of mourning, but “there may be informal conversations taking place”, the prime minister’s official spokesperson said.

Former Tory leader Lord Hague said while there will “of course” be diplomacy around the funeral, that is not the main focus.

“Of course there’s diplomacy – you can’t get that many people together from all over the world without them starting to say, ‘Well, what do you think is going on in Ukraine?'” he told Times Radio.

“Yet they come because they want to pay tribute to this extraordinary head of state. And that’s what it’s going to be 90% about.”

Death of Queen Elizabeth II
Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer and Prime Minister Liz Truss leave Westminster Hall after both Houses of Parliament expressed condolences over the Queen’s death (Leon Neal/PA)

Downing Street on Monday declined to comment on reports that world leaders visiting London for the Queen’s funeral have been asked to travel on commercial flights and will be transported by bus to Westminster Abbey.

“Arrangements for leaders, including how they travel, will vary depending on individual circumstances,” the spokesperson said, adding that “advice and information provided is advice.”

Mr Biden is said to have a dispensation to use the heavily armored presidential car known as the Beast, while most other leaders will have to take a shared coach to the Abbey from west London.

The Queen will rest in state at Westminster Hall from Wednesday until Monday, when her coffin will be taken in a procession from the Palace of Westminster to Westminster Abbey for the funeral service.

Hundreds of thousands of people are expected in the streets of the capital during the funeral.