Liz Truss’ government will host the largest gathering of foreign leaders and dignitaries in London for decades as they arrive in the capital for the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II on Monday.
Among those present are US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron and Indian President Draupadi Murmu.
Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, Italian President Sergio Mattarella and Frank-Walter Steinmeier, President of Germany, will also be on the benches.
The service, which will conclude the 10-day period of national mourning, will take place at Westminster Abbey in the heart of the capital and will be attended by around 2,000 people.
The presence of heads of state, representatives of overseas governments, foreign royal families and governors general will pose enormous organizational and security issues.
A senior cabinet minister said: ‘Whitehall has been planning the funeral for decades, but this is the most complicated logistical occasion you could imagine.
As well as VIP dignitaries, attendees will include recipients of British gallantry awards such as the Victoria Cross and George Cross, alongside senior MPs and peers, bishops and representatives of charities supported by the late monarch.
Nearly 200 people who were recognized at this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honors were also invited, including community volunteers and those who have made extraordinary contributions during the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as d other emergency service workers.
Although no official bilateral meeting is taking place due to the period of national mourning, Truss is expected to arrange several meetings.
Truss was scheduled to meet Biden on Sunday, but the couple will have their first official bilateral at the United Nations General Assembly in New York later this week.
The British Prime Minister met Albanese and Ardern at Checkers, his country residence in Buckinghamshire, on Saturday. On Sunday, she was due to meet Irish Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at Downing Street.
Royal dignitaries in attendance will also include Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako of Japan, King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia of Spain, King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of Belgium and King Harald V and Queen Sonja of Norway. .
Foreign dignitaries will meet before the event at the Royal Hospital in Chelsea before traveling in shared vehicles to the Abbey.
Only a handful of world leaders – including those from Russia, Belarus and Myanmar – were not invited, reflecting the war in Ukraine and the lack of full diplomatic relations with the UK.
No representatives from Syria, Venezuela or Afghanistan were invited to attend, while North Korea and Nicaragua were only invited at ambassadorial level.
Conservative MPs and their peers have expressed concern that an invitation has been extended to Xi Jinping, President of China, although Vice President Wang Qishan is likely to represent the country.
Last year, Beijing imposed sanctions on nine people, including five Tory MPs and four UK organisations, in retaliation for the UK’s decision to sanction certain Chinese officials.
Former Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith, one of five MPs sanctioned, said it was ‘astonishing’ China was invited given its ‘enormous record of human rights abuses’ .
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will be represented by the country’s foreign minister, while Ursula von der Leyen, head of the European Commission, is expected to attend.
Due to the Russian invasion, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is not expected, but First Lady Olena Zelenska is expected to attend.
The state funeral service, which will start at 11am and last around an hour, will be led by the Dean of Westminster, Dr David Hoyle.
At the start of the service, the Westminster Abbey Choir, joined by the Chapel Royal Choir from St. James’s Palace, will sing five phrases – lines of scripture set to music.
Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, will deliver a sermon, and Truss and Baroness Patricia Scotland, Commonwealth Secretary General, will read lessons from the Corinthians and the Gospel of St John. The lessons will be followed alternately by a specially commissioned setting of the psalm “Like the deer” and the hymn “The Lord is my Shepherd”.
Other anthems to play will include “The day you gave, Lord, is over” and “Love divine, all loves excel.”
After the service, the Queen’s coffin will be escorted to Wellington Arch, Hyde Park Corner, en route to Windsor Castle, where a burial service will take place at 4 p.m. This will be led by the Dean of Windsor, David Conner. The rector of Sandringham, the minister of Crathie Kirk near Balmoral and the chaplain of the Chapel Royal in Windsor – representing some of the Queen’s favorite residences – will say prayers.
A private funeral will take place later Monday evening at the King George VI Memorial Chapel at Windsor Castle and the late monarch will be buried alongside her husband, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.