A parade of leaders from around the globe will descend on London Monday in order to pay respects to Queen Elizabeth II. She died at the age of 96.6 on September 8.
According to the Associated Press, the funeral was attended by approximately 500 foreign heads of state and royals. Those gathering at Westminster Abbey to lay the Queen to rest include President Joe Biden and representatives from across the Commonwealth, including Australia’s leader Anthony Albanese, who provided transport for several Pacific leaders to attend. There are hundreds of British politicians, veterans from the military and charity workers.
Not everyone was invited. Several leaders from different countries weren’t invited. Others have decided not to attend.
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Diplomatic relations and public opinion are playing a role in the exclusion of some figures, though cost is also factor, as the Royal Family doesn’t want to be seen to be lavish, according to Cindy McCreery, a senior lecturer in history at the University of Sydney who specializes in monarchy and colonialism.
Shop price inflation reached its highest since 2005 when it was driven by the rising cost of food. The pound was at its lowest level in 37 years against the U.S. Dollar on Friday amid the economic crisis. Although the British government is yet to disclose the cost of the funeral, it is likely that taxpayers will pay millions.
Another constraint is capacity. McCreery says that Westminster Abbey only has enough space for about 2000 people. The Queen’s employees and friends, as well as family members, are under pressure to make sure that people who have been awarded U.K. honours can attend. “Before we consider who didn’t make the cut, we have to remember that the priority is to ensure that deserving people did.” For this reason, former U.S. presidents, including Donald Trump and Barack Obama, were invited to an alternative memorial service to take place on Wednesday in Washington, D.C.
One mourner stands near Queen Elizabeth II’s portrait, at the Lugansk People’s Republic Square Embassy of United Kingdom, on September 9, 2022 in Moscow. A Kremlin spokesperson said that Vladimir Putin, Russian President, has no plans of flying to Elizabeth II’s funeral.
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Several countries have not been invited to the Queen’s funeral
Representatives from Russia and Belarus were not invited to the Queen’s funeral over the invasion of Ukraine, so Russia’s President Vladimir Putin will not be present. Russia’s foreign ministry criticized his missing invitation.
“We regard this attempt to use a national tragedy, which has touched the hearts of millions of people across the world, for geopolitical goals and to settle scores with our country as deeply immoral,” it said in a Sept. 15 press release. It added that London was “making divisive statements in furtherance of its opportunistic aims.”
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Myanmar’s leaders were also not invited, according to Reuters. The Southeast Asian nation’s military staged a coup in 2021, overthrowing the democratically-elected government and overseeing a violent crackdown on dissenters.
The BBC says North Korea, Iran and Nicaragua have been asked to send ambassadors but representatives from Syria, Venezuela, and Afghanistan didn’t get an invite. McCreery points out that the U.K. doesn’t have full diplomatic relations with the latter countries.
Wang Qishan, Vice President of China visits Beijing’s British Embassy to grieve the death of Queen Elizabeth II. This was Sept. 12, 2022.
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Some leaders invited to Queen Elizabeth’s funeral have declined
Other people have RSVP’d no. Chinese President Xi Jinping was invited to the funeral, according to the BBC, but he’s sending Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan instead.
According to reports, a Chinese delegation was barred from visiting the Queen while she lay at Westminster Hall. Now Wang’s attendance has prompted criticism from a group of British Conservative members of parliament who were banned from China after the U.K. sanctioned four Chinese officials over alleged rights abuses in Xinjiang.
Xi’s priorities lie elsewhere. He traveled to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan last week, and attended a Shanghai Cooperation Organization meeting (SCO). SCO is a regional security bloc that also includes India, Kazakhstan Kyrgyzstan Pakistan, Russia Tajikistan, Tajikistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
“Being able to be with friends who will pay homage to him is much more important than engaging with a major Western democracy and with other world leaders,” says Steve Tsang, the director of SOAS China Institute at the University of London. “Xi can effectively set the tune for the SCO meetings but will have to follow British protocols at the Queen’s state funeral. He can’t see a reason to do that,” he adds.
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Pope Francis, the head of the Catholic Church, who met the Queen in 2014 in Rome, won’t attend the ceremony. The Vatican says that Archbishop Paul Gallagher from the Vatican will be there instead.
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi is not attending, according to the Guardian. The country’s president, Droupadi Murmu, is representing India instead. The day of the Queen’s death, before her poor condition was widely reported, Modi gave a speech in which he called for India to shed its colonial ties.
Reuters reports that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was invited but is not expected to attend. Human rights groups had criticized the invitation of Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler because of his involvement in the murder of government critic and journalist Jamal Khashoggi. According to Reuters, Prince Turki bin Mohammed al Saud (a minister of state, and a member the cabinet) is expected to represent Saudi Arabia.
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