World leaders assemble for Queen’s funeral

World

World leaders including US President Joe Biden, President Emmanuel Macron of France and President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil, have joined hundreds of other royals, heads of state, and rulers from across the globe for the Queen’s funeral.

Many arrived in buses, having been ferried there from a meeting point in Chelsea, with most waiting in Westminster Abbey for more than an hour before the Queen’s coffin arrived, after it was conveyed there on a gun carriage from Westminster Hall.

Mr Biden arrived at the abbey in his bomb-proof limousine, with his wife Jill, and they were received by the dean of Westminster Abbey.

Joe Biden arrives for the funeral of the Queen
Image:
Joe Biden arrives for the funeral of the Queen

Mr Biden sat 14 rows back on the south transept behind the Polish leader and in front of the leader of the Czech Republic. The First Lady sat next to the Swiss delegation.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her counterparts from Canada, Justin Trudeau, and Australia, Anthony Albanese, were also seen watching the coffin be brought into Westminster Abbey at the start of the state funeral, the UK’s first since 1965 when Winston Churchill was afforded the honour.

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern arrives
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New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern arrives

Irish President Michael Higgins, President of the EU Council Charles Michel and Croatia’s president Moran Milanovic were also there, along with the president of Israel Isaac Herzog and his wife Michal Herzog.

China’s Vice President Wang Qishan was also seen in the abbey, attending as the special representative of President Xi Jinping, despite concerns over China’s treatment of the Uyghur people.

Canadian Prime minister Justin Trudeau and Sophie Gregoire Trudeau
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Canadian Prime minister Justin Trudeau and Sophie Gregoire Trudeau

World royals

Also present was Japan’s Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako – the first time the couple had left the country since the pandemic started. Traditionally Japanese emperors stay away from funerals except for their own parents because of cultural beliefs in the Shinto religion that consider death impure.

Japan's Emperor Naruhito and Japan's Empress Masako arrive to take their seats
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Japan’s Emperor Naruhito and Japan’s Empress Masako arrive to take their seats

One of the first royals to arrive was Moroccan Crown Prince Moulay Hassan, who at the age of 19 was representing his father King Mohammed VI.

Many of the other European royal families were also in attendance, with the Netherlands’ King Willem-Alexander, Queen Maxima and Princess Beatrix and Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia among those who joined the congregation.

The Netherlands' King Willem-Alexander, Queen Maxima and Princess Beatrix attend the state funeral
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The Netherlands’ King Willem-Alexander, Queen Maxima and Princess Beatrix attend the state funeral
Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia attend
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Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia attend

How they all got there

The first foreign leaders had arrived in three coaches that pulled up outside Westminster Abbey containing dozens of figures from countries across the world.

As they got off and went into the abbey, a single bell tolled every minute to mark the 96 years of the Queen’s life.

At around the same time a convoy of black Range Rovers, flanked by police outriders, snaked through central London.

China's Vice President Wang Qishan arrives at Westminster Abbey
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China’s Vice President Wang Qishan arrives at Westminster Abbey

Mr Biden’s car was caught in traffic as the US president made his way to Westminster Abbey.

Footage shared on social media showed the armoured vehicle, nicknamed the Beast, held up outside a Pret a Manger restaurant near Marble Arch, about 2.5km (1.5 miles) from Westminster Abbey, shortly after 8am.

Many of the foreign dignitaries made their way to the Abbey from the Royal Chelsea Hospital, where they had been gathering since about 7.30am.

Australia's Prime Minister Anthony Albanese arrives
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Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese arrives

The leaders attending were among around 500 others from nearly 200 countries and territories.

They included nearly 100 presidents and heads of government, and over 20 royals, according to a Foreign and Commonwealth Office source.

Dignitaries arriving for Queen’s funeral – live updates

Michael D Higgins at the funeral for the queen
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Michael D Higgins at the funeral for the queen

The only countries not invited were Russia, Belarus, Myanmar, Syria, Venezuela and Afghanistan.

Iran, North Korea and Nicaragua were due to be represented at ambassadorial level.

The funeral was broadcast live to more than 200 countries and was said to be among the most-watched events in the history of television.

The leaders were among the 2,000 people gathering at Westminster Abbey to remember the Queen.

UK politicians

All of the living former UK prime ministers including Boris Johnson, Theresa May, David Cameron, Gordon Brown, Sir Tony Blair and Sir John Major came in together, shortly before the current PM Liz Truss, who read a lesson.

(left to right, from front) Former prime ministers David Cameron and his wife Samanatha Cameron, Theresa May and Philip May arriving at the State Funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, held at Westminster Abbey, London. Picture date: Monday September 19, 2022.
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(left to right, from front) Former prime ministers David Cameron and his wife Samanatha Cameron, Theresa May and Philip May arriving at the State Funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, held at Westminster Abbey, London. Picture date: Monday September 19, 202

Ms Truss, who attended with her husband Hugh O’Leary, met leaders including Mr Albanese and Ms Ardern at her temporary country residence at Chevening on Saturday and other leaders in Downing Street on Sunday.

Among the first notable faces to join the congregation were Michael and Carole Middleton, two of the grandparents of the second in line to the throne, Prince George, as well as numerous members of the government and other senior politicians, such as Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and London mayor Sadiq Khan.

Before the arrival of the Royal Family, who followed the coffin as it was brought from Westminster Hall, there was silence in the abbey except for the distant sound of the tenor bell and the footsteps of guests still taking their seats as the start of the service drew close.

Large parts of Chelsea were closed off as the world leaders arrived at the Royal Chelsea Hospital.

With a few exceptions, heads of state, prime ministers and ambassadors arrived at the hospital where they gathered before heading on to the abbey, together in coaches, amid tight security.

The funeral of Her Majesty the Queen at Westminster Abbey. Carole Middleton and Michael Middleton. September 19, 2022. Geoff Pugh/Pool via REUTERS
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The funeral of Her Majesty the Queen at Westminster Abbey. Carole Middleton and Michael Middleton.

Police closed down access to the roads surrounding the hospital, home of the Chelsea Pensioners, some of whom had to walk to Westminster.

Cyclists, joggers and dog walkers were turned away and redirected back towards Sloane Square by police offices from around 7.30am.

An array of cars with blacked out windows and diplomatic number plates then proceeded to arrive, along with police escorts in SUVs, sweeping down Lower Sloane Street to a checkpoint by Turk’s Row.

There was a clear order of attendees, with presidents and prime ministers the first to arrive, followed by foreign royalty and lastly the group from China.

 Joe Biden, arrives at the State Funeral of Queen Elizabeth II in his armoured limousine
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Joe Biden, arrives at the State Funeral of Queen Elizabeth II in his armoured limousine

The first guests began arriving at the abbey shortly after 8am, with the first entering through the east gate.

Some dignitaries, including Presidents Macron and Biden had previously joined mourners to see the Queen’s coffin in Westminster Hall.

The operation to keep safe the dignitaries and the hundreds of thousands of members of the public in the capital to see the coffin pass by is one of the biggest security operations ever planned by the Metropolitan Police.

It surpasses the operation for the Platinum Jubilee weekend and the London 2012 Olympics, which saw up to 10,000 police officers on duty each day.

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