Leaders and monarchs from around the world will attend the Queen’s state funeral in London later this month, congregating in Westminster Abbey for a solemn gathering on a scale seldom witnessed in recent decades.
The funeral, which is expected to take place around 19 September in the same church where the Queen was crowned in 1953, will attract presidents, prime ministers, kings and queens as well as huge crowds from home and abroad.
The US president, Joe Biden, who described the Queen as “a steadying presence and a source of comfort and pride for generations of Britons”, has confirmed he will be among the world leaders paying their respects in person.
Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has also signaled his intention to attend. He told reporters on Friday that he knew the Queen and had met her twice at Buckingham Palace.
“If we find the opportunity we would like to be present at this ceremony,” he said.
Members of Europe’s royal families, from countries including Spain, Belgium, Norway, Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands, will also travel to the abbey.
At least one leader, however, will be conspicuous by his absence. Although relations between the UK and Russia have been badly damaged by the latter’s invasion of Ukraine, Vladimir Putin offered his condolences to King Charles.
“For many decades Elizabeth II rightfully enjoyed her subjects’ love and respect as well as authority on the world stage,” the Kremlin said in a statement.
“Russians respected her for her wisdom,” but Putin’s attendance at the funeral “is not being considered,” it said.
France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, paid an unscheduled visit to the British embassy in Paris on Friday to sign the condolence book for the Queen.
The British ambassador to France, Menna Rawlings, tweeted: “I warmly thank President Emmanuel Macron for his visit to the British residence today to pay homage to Her Majesty the Queen in the name of the French people. His words and declarations of him have touched us deeply and gone straight to our hearts.
Bob Broadhurst, a former Metropolitan police commander, said the funeral would almost certainly entail the biggest security operation seen in the UK.
“Practically every nation on earth is going to want to send their king, queen, prime minister or president for the funeral,” he told PA Media.
More than 8,000 guests descended on Westminster Abbey for the Queen’s coronation in June 1953, the first time the crowning of a new monarch had been televised. Three million people lined the streets of London to catch a glimpse of the procession.
Among the dignitaries who attended the event were Sir Winston Churchill, the prime ministers of India and Pakistan, Jawaharlal Nehru and Mohammad Ali Bogra, Gen George C Marshall – advocate of the eponymous postwar European recovery plan – who led the US delegation, and Col Anastasio Somoza, who would go on to become a dictator in his Nicaraguan homeland.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism