Queen’s funeral: Invitation list raises diplomatic issues

Ever get an invitation to an event and wonder who didn’t make the cut? Or how close are you sitting to the host? Or who else is at your desk?

In recent days, hundreds of presidents, prime ministers, kings, queens, aristocrats and other world dignitaries have invited the Queen. Elizabeth II’s funeral – scheduled for Monday – is considering similar questions, reading out arrangements of protocol as if they were tea leaves amid speculation that he would attend the most important diplomatic event hosted by the United Kingdom in recent years. Who has been called for?

Although the official guest list has not been published, it is expected that Westminster Abbey, where the funeral will take place and which can seat 2,000 people, will be filled to capacity. Leaked documents relating to funeral arrangements from Britain’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) suggest that the government has allowed visiting leaders to take a commercial flight to limit the number of their delegates and reduce crowds at Heathrow. encouraged to consider.

But it is another requirement that has given rise to diplomatic wrath: that dignitaries ditch their private cars at a rally site near the abbey and make their way by bus—an idea so controversial, it appears, that The British prime minister’s official spokesman stressed on Monday that arrangements for leaders “will vary based on individual circumstances” and that the information provided was “guidance”.

The wording of exceptions given to some leaders – such as President Biden, who quickly accepted the invitation and would be referred to as “The Beast” in his armored Cadillac section – reportedly urged diplomats to receive equal treatment for them. Shot for. Boss, or at least clarity on who will be sitting next to them in coach.

Meanwhile, the question of who has been invited (or not) and who is leaving (or not) brings with it many issues.

So far, European royal figures from Belgium, Denmark, Monaco, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain and Sweden have confirmed attendance. Similarly, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Indian President Draupadi Murmu and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa are all heads of Commonwealth countries. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said she would attend as First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska; Joining them are the presidents of Austria, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy and Poland. On Wednesday, French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted from his official account that he would also be present.

From afar, Japanese Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako, breaking from standard protocol, would attend the funeral, as a measure of their and their family’s close ties with the late emperor. Some of the odd bedfellows due to attend are: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Israeli President Isaac Herzog, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohamed Shtayyeh, Jordan’s King Abdullah II, Emirati Head Sheikh Mohammed bin Zaid.

Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro and South Korean President Yoon Suk-yol are also among the expected attendees.

Mexico will send foreign affairs secretary Marcelo Ebrard. And the UK, pointing to weak ties with Iran, North Korea and Nicaragua, has been invited to send representatives only at the ambassadorial level.

Only six countries are not on the guest list in any capacity: Russia as a result of its invasion of Ukraine, and to facilitate the Belarus attack; Afghanistan, now under Taliban rule; Myanmar, where the military took control in a coup last year; Syria, with which there has been no diplomatic relations due to the ongoing civil war; and Venezuela, which has no diplomatic relations with the United Kingdom.

There was a particularly great hesitation with China when a group of British lawmakers on Thursday heard of an invitation to Chinese President Xi Jinping and called for it to be cancelled, calling it “completely” in a letter to the parliament chief. inappropriate”.

The hostility there has centered on the UK government’s sanctions on Chinese officials believed to be responsible for the genocide. against the UighurS, Muslim minority of China. Beijing imposed its own travel ban and asset freeze on British officials, including lawmakers who wrote the letter, days later. Parliament retaliated by barring China’s ambassador to Britain from entering parliament. In April, it also voted to recognize as Beijing genocide with Uighurs in the region of Xinjiang.

According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, despite the kerfuffle, Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan has confirmed that he will attend. Nevertheless, some MPs said in statements to the British press that they had been assured by parliamentary leaders that a Chinese delegation would not be allowed to visit the Queen’s lay-in-state at Westminster Hall, where tens Thousands have been queuing for more than 24 hours since Thursday to pay their respects.

But in an apparent protest, a parliamentary spokesman told reporters on Saturday that “heads of state (or their representatives) who have been invited to attend a state funeral at Westminster Abbey should also be allowed to lie to the state.” are invited to. Westminster Hall.”

Further controversy erupted around Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, whom Saudi officials said would hold a phone call with Britain’s newly-minted Prime Minister Liz Truss on Saturday evening. The Crown Prince Was Set To Order The Murder Of Saudi Journalist In An Unclassified CIA Report Jamal KhashoggiWhose body was mutilated inside the Saudi consulate in the Turkish capital Istanbul in 2018.

The Crown Prince denied having anything to do with the murder; Since then, he has worked to re-establish his image internationally; If he does attend the funeral, it will be his first visit to London since 2018.

Saudi Arabia remains an important customer for British arms companies and employs thousands of expatriate workers. During his decades as prince, King Charles III visited Saudi Arabia more than 10 times; His personal aide resigned last year after press reports revealed that the aide had promised a knighthood to a Saudi businessman in exchange for a donation from the then prince. The businessman, Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz, was awarded the Commander of the British Empire Medal by then-Prince Charles in a private ceremony in 2016; The Metropolitan Police launched an investigation earlier this year. The king denied having any knowledge of the promises made to Mahfouz.

Although there is still no official confirmation, CNN Arabic quoted a source close to the Saudi royal family as saying that the Crown Prince will land in the English capital on Sunday. It is not clear whether he will attend the funeral itself or will have the opportunity to offer his condolences to the royal family in private. But the prospect of his arrival angered several rights groups, as well as Khashoggi’s fiancé Hatice Cengiz, who denounced the invitation.

“The passing of the Queen is indeed a sad occasion. The Crown Prince should not be allowed to be a part of this mourning and his memory should not be allowed to be tarnished and this time of mourning should not be used to seek legitimacy and normalization.” should not be allowed,” Cengiz said in an interview with the Guardian newspaper. He instead called on the UK authorities to arrest him when he landed in London, but said he had little hope that they would will do.

The Pressure Group Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) also encouraged the UK government to invite Saudi Arabia and said it would protest in front of the Saudi Arabia and Bahrain embassies; Both countries are important importers of British arms.

“Mohammed bin Salman is the head of a murderous regime,” CAAT parliamentary coordinator Katie Fallon said in a statement. “These autocrats are using the Queen’s state funeral as an opportunity to whitewash their reputation.”

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