The Queen and the Paupers
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Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral is becoming a diplomatic nightmare for British officials, as they try to accommodate the many requests by hundreds of world leaders and foreign dignitaries attending Monday’s ceremony, the Washington Post reported Saturday.
The queen, the longest-serving monarch in the United Kingdom, passed away on Sept. 8. Her son, Charles, became king upon her death.
Since then, British authorities have been working non-stop to organize the state funeral and have sent invitations to leaders of nearly 200 nations.
Officials working in “the Hangar” of the UK’s Foreign Office are involved in intense negotiations over protocols, including whether certain leaders are allowed to have their own armored cars, their personal doctors and assistants on hand, and their own private rooms to rest.
“You can’t just issue a blanket ‘no,’ but nine times out of 10 it is a ‘no,’” one official told the Post.
US President Joe Biden and a few other leaders will be allowed to travel with their own armored vehicles. But others, including Japanese Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako, will have to take a shuttle bus to attend the funeral.
Exceptions have been made for interpreters as some of the leaders do not speak – or at least are not very fluent – in English.
Although invitations have been sent to almost every country or territory with diplomatic relations with the UK, some nations did not make the list. These included Russia and Belarus because of the war in Ukraine, and Myanmar because of its human rights abuses under its junta leadership.
Meanwhile, some nations, such as North Korea and Iran, were allowed to send their ambassadors but not their heads of state.
Some leaders also will not attend, including Chinese President Xi Jinping and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan – the latter sent his foreign minister in his stead because he was not allowed to have his own presidential car.
The idea of many world leaders fitting in one bus was amusing to many Britons, the Post added.
“All the world leaders are on a field trip,” said British comedian Jimmy Carr.
Former diplomats and officials told the Post that the event offers a rare opportunity for world leaders to talk without aides and notetakers. Some cautioned that there is a possibility of disputes among heads of states, who might have strong personal or national differences.
Still, others said that the queen’s death also sparked “an outbreak of civility,” citing the case of French President Emmanuel Macron, who praised the queen and the UK’s relationship with France.
Macron has had a frosty relationship with UK Prime Minister Liz Truss and her predecessor, Boris Johnson.