King Charles to receive foreign leaders after they pay respects to queen lying in state

About 500 representatives of foreign governments expected to attend the monarch's funeral

Queen Elizabeth II is lying in state in Westminster Hall until 6.30am on Monday before her funeral. Getty
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World leaders travelling to London for Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral will have the opportunity to visit the monarch lying in state before being invited to a reception hosted by King Charles III.

Presidents, prime ministers and members of royal families from around the globe will descend on the British capital from Friday ahead of the country’s largest ceremonial event in recent history.

Small groups of overseas dignitaries are expected to be escorted into Westminster Hall on Saturday to bid farewell to the queen alongside the streams of public mourners.

King Charles and Queen Consort Camilla will host overseas dignitaries at a reception at Buckingham Palace on Sunday, Prime Minister Liz Truss’s spokesman said. Ms Truss will meet with foreign leaders at separate meetings, he said.

"Her majesty's passing has left many people, across many continents, with a profound sense of loss," said the Earl Marshal, Edward Fitzalan-Howard, the Duke of Norfolk, England's most senior peer and the one responsible for state occasions. "It is our aim and belief that the state funeral and events of the next few days will unite people across the globe."

Officials in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office have handwritten about 1,000 invitations for the funeral and the reception with the king.

US President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron are among the most high-profile guests who have confirmed they will attend the funeral at Westminster Abbey at 11am on Monday.

Ireland’s taoiseach, or prime minister, Micheal Martin and President Michael D Higgins have confirmed their attendance, as well as German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Italian President Sergio Mattarella and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Other well-known faces in the Abbey will be New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Australia's Governor General David Hurley, South Korean President Yoon Suk-Yeol, and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.

An official delegation from China has reportedly been banned from attending the queen's lying in state, amid a row over Beijing's representation at the funeral.

Some Conservative MPs raised concerns about China being invited to send a representative to the funeral, given the country's poor track record on human rights. Senior Tory MPs Tim Loughton and Sir Iain Duncan Smith this week wrote to the Commons Speaker and Lord Speaker, calling it extraordinary that Chinese representatives should have received an invitation.

The group from Beijing has been refused permission by Commons authorities to attend the lying in state after an intervention by the Speaker, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, a senior parliamentary figure told news website Politico.

Sir Lindsay reportedly told colleagues he declined a request for the delegation to be allowed access to Westminster Hall.

A House of Commons spokesman said “we do not comment on security matters” when asked, while a spokesman for Sir Lindsay also declined to comment.

Royals from overseas who have confirmed their intention to attend include King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands, King Felipe and Queen Letizia of Spain and King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of Belgium. Representatives from the Swedish, Danish and Monegasque royal families are also expected to file into the abbey.

Security will be tight as the Metropolitan Police deal with their biggest operation in recent years. Heads of state and other senior foreign dignitaries will be asked to gather at the Royal Hospital, a retirement and nursing home for veteran soldiers in west London, a senior palace official said.

They are expected to be ferried to the abbey by coach along streets lined with members of the public and media from all over the world.

Immediately after the funeral on Monday, Foreign Secretary James Cleverly will host a reception for guests at nearby Church House, as members of the royal family head to Windsor for the queen's burial.

Decisions on the dress code for the funeral lie with the palace, but British diplomats are advising foreign attendees to wear dark formal clothing for the sombre event, although national dress will also be acceptable. Serving military personnel will be allowed to wear ceremonial dress ― with or without swords.

Updated: September 16, 2022, 8:52 AM
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