LONDON — As Britain mourns the loss of life of its longest-serving monarch, frantic preparations are already underway in London for what’s shaping as much as be one of many century’s largest diplomatic events.

A whole lot of present and former heads of state and authorities will be a part of scores of different dignitaries descending upon Britain subsequent week for the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, who died Thursday after 70 years on the throne.

Leaders together with U.S. President Joe Biden, European Fee President Ursula von der Leyen and New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern have already confirmed they are going to attend the funeral, which Buckingham Palace introduced Saturday shall be held on September 19, at 11 a.m. at Westminster Abbey.

The historic church, with capability for two,000 individuals, was the setting for Queen Elizabeth’s marriage to Prince Philip in 1947, and for all however two British coronations since 1066.

Additionally more likely to attend the funeral are Japan’s Emperor Naruhito — who could journey alongside Empress Masako and Prime Minister Fumio Kishida — Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and French President Emmanuel Macron, amongst many extra.

Spain is more likely to be represented by King Felipe VI, who has blood ties to the British royal household relationship again to the nineteenth century. Members of different European royal households together with from Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden may even journey.

“It could not be shocking if all of the topped heads of state from Europe come, in addition to heads of state and heads of presidency in different nations,” mentioned a former Cupboard minister who was in authorities on the time of one other main funeral, that of former U.Okay. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 2013.

“It is going to be an enormous diplomatic occasion,” they added. “Her majesty’s final contribution to the wellbeing of our nation is to supply an excuse for an enormous diplomatic get-together.”

“This shall be a funeral like no different, or few different,” agreed John Kampfner, director of the “U.Okay. within the World” initiative on the Chatham Home assume tank. “There have been nice state funerals earlier than — of American presidents, of Nelson Mandela and others. However fairly merely the queen was probably the most well-known individual on the planet, and because of this I believe there shall be an attendance record that shall be unprecedented.”

Essentially the most notable — albeit unsurprising — absence shall be that of Russian President Vladimir Putin, after the Kremlin mentioned his attendance is not an option. In gossipy diplomatic circles, simply as essential as who’s coming is solely who’s receiving an invite, with embassy officers keen to find whether or not Chinese language President Xi Jinping shall be supplied the prospect to attend.

Working across the clock

Within the meantime, diplomats are fretting over the sheer scale of what’s about to unfold.

The preparations for the funeral characterize a colossal logistical, safety and diplomatic activity, with tens of hundreds of individuals anticipated to journey to London over the approaching days. Overseas embassies are already dealing with lots of of calls from personal residents enquiring whether or not it might be attainable to land within the capital on the identical day of the funeral, and dashing to e-book flights and lodging.

The hearse makes its well beyond Downing Avenue through the Ceremonial funeral of former British Prime Minister Baroness Thatcher on April 17, 2013 | Gareth Cattermole – WPA Pool/Getty Pictures

“It is going to be an enormous problem from many views: protocol, safety, sensitivities,” mentioned Ioannis Raptakis, Greek ambassador to the U.Okay., who agreed it is going to be of the same magnitude to Nelson Mandela’s state funeral in 2013 or the COP26 U.N. local weather change summit in Glasgow final 12 months, by way of the sheer variety of world leaders more likely to attend.

“Nearly each nation will make an effort to be represented. However I’ve full belief within the British protocol consultants — they’ve the expertise of organizing COP26 not too long ago, which was like a rehearsal.”

Others are extra involved. “We’re very fearful concerning the logistics,” one diplomat mentioned, pointing to a perceived lack of group through the G7 summit in Cornwall final 12 months.

Envoys are determined for extra steerage from the Overseas, Commonwealth and Growth Workplace, specifically relating to the protocol for the service, which is able to decide the all-important query of whether or not heads of state or authorities can attend accompanied by spouses and different senior members of presidency. Some complained they’ve obtained solely a short word to this point. On events like these, everybody desires to deliver a plus-one.

On the morning of the funeral itself, the queen’s coffin shall be carried in a procession to Westminster Abbey from 900-year-old Westminster Corridor, the place the general public could have had a number of days to pay their respects. The nation will observe a two-minute silence.

After the one-hour funeral service, a big ceremonial procession will accompany the coffin to close by Hyde Park, the place it is going to be transferred from gun carriage to state hearse. The coffin will then journey 20 miles west of central London, to Windsor Fort.

Following a committal service at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor, the coffin will lastly be lowered into the royal vault on the fortress grounds, beside that of the queen’s late husband Prince Philip, who died in April 2021.

Greater than only a funeral

Main funerals are unusual moments for diplomats, combining solemn durations of mourning with inevitable alternatives for bilateral and multilateral encounters.

The final state funeral to be held within the U.Okay. happened in 1965, following the loss of life of former Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Dignitaries from an unprecedented 112 nations — together with the likes of Dwight Eisenhower, Charles de Gaulle and Queen Elizabeth herself — attended the service at St. Paul’s Cathedral, which was adopted on TV and radio by an estimated 350 million individuals world wide. Regardless of the funeral being held on the top of the Chilly Battle, the Soviet Union despatched its deputy prime minister to attend.

Diplomacy round such occasions is undoubtedly attainable. In 1979, instantly after the funeral of Louis Mountbatten — a relative of the queen who was murdered by the IRA — Thatcher held a summit together with her Irish counterpart John Lynch at a time of excessive tensions between the 2 nations. The assembly turned a “form of prelude” towards the Good Friday / Belfast peace settlement, in response to the previous Cupboard minister quoted above.

However Kampfner mentioned that this time leaders should proceed discreetly with any personal conversations or encounters, with the protocol for a head of state’s funeral stricter than for some other such service — and particularly since Queen Elizabeth was no odd figurehead.

“All heads of state and others shall be very cautious about being seen to be overly partaking in any direct diplomacy on an event like that,” mentioned Kampfner.

South Africa President on the time Jacob Zuma provides a speech through the funeral ceremony of South African former president Nelson Mandela | Pool picture by Odd Andersen/AFP through Getty Pictures

Leaders may even have to be cautious to not by chance overshadow the late monarch, or steal consideration with actions that is likely to be thought-about disrespectful. Reminiscences are nonetheless recent of the beaming selfie taken by former Danish Premier Helle Thorning-Schmidt with former U.Okay. Prime Minister David Cameron and ex-U.S. President Barack Obama on the Johannesburg memorial service for Mandela.

However, what incidental moments there are between leaders shall be of eager curiosity to seasoned observers, Kampfner mentioned.

That was the case with the well-known handshake between Obama and Cuba’s Raul Castro at Mandela’s funeral, a short second interpreted as proof of a warming relationship between Washington and Havana.

Truss below the highlight

For Liz Truss herself, the event will supply “well mannered getting-to-know-you moments” with key leaders which ought to show priceless for a primary minister solely appointed earlier this month, Kampfer mentioned.

However he warned that the brand new U.Okay. premier “received’t need to be seen partaking in any discussions concerning the many issues that the world faces, due to the sensitivity of the second.”

Definitely, Downing Avenue is adamant the U.Okay.’s 10-day mourning interval is to be rigorously noticed, which suggests formal conferences between Truss and different worldwide leaders won’t be scheduled till politics resumes. For extra substantial conversations, Truss will due to this fact have to attend for the U.N. Basic Meeting going down in New York later that week.

“I’d assume if a president or a primary minister got here up and expressed their actual condolences about her majesty and the way a lot she was appreciated, and so they speak at that degree, they are going to have a huge impact,” mentioned Conservative MP Peter Bone, who attended Thatcher’s funeral.

“If they are saying — ‘we would like a free commerce settlement,’ that shall be completely inappropriate.”

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