Anger among MPs as Chinese vice-president to attend Queen’s funeral

The Chinese vice-president, Wang Qishan, is to attend the Queen’s funeral in a move that has prompted complaints from a group of British Conservative MPs that have been banned from travelling to China due to their campaigns against Chinese repression.

Wang will be the most senior Asian political leader to attend the service at Westminster Abbey and among the representatives of authoritarian states, a grouping that also includes Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, the president of Egypt. The Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, is expected to lead a delegation to London, although his attendance at the funeral has not yet been confirmed.

The Foreign Office is refusing to release a full guest list at this stage for security reasons, and most leaders from the Middle East apart from the Israeli president, Isaac Herzog, have not disclosed their plans to attend. But the confirmation that Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad al Thani will be present suggests other Gulf leaders will also attend.

With the seating for the congregation inside Westminster Abbey still incomplete, and a refusal by the UK to offer accommodation to world leaders, there is still a last-minute scramble under way even though the deadline for RSVPs has now passed. Only royals that are or have recently been heads of state in their country are being invited, blocking off some who lost their thrones long ago.

Foreign Office sources said heads of state will be given the chance to pay their respects in small groups to the Queen’s body at time-limited events on Friday designed to maximise the numbers that can see her coffin.

The emir of Qatar, sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, meets Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle, 24 May 2022.
The emir of Qatar, sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, meets Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle, 24 May 2022. Photograph: Steve Parsons/PA

They will also be offered a reception at the Palace on Friday night, early morning travel on Monday under “collective arrangements” to the abbey and then a further reception after a funeral with the foreign secretary, James Cleverly, in Church House. For many world leaders, it will be a rare brush with a form of public transport.

The Iranian president, Ibrahim Raisi was not invited to the funeral even though the UK and Iran retain bilateral relations.

The Iranian charge d’affaires in London is due to attend the ceremony, and an Iranian Foreign Office official has signed a condolences book in Tehran, despite the continued hostility in Iran towards the British monarchy’s endorsement of the previous Shah of Iran.

India is represented at the funeral by the president, Droupadi Murmu. Bangladesh prime minister, sheikh Hasina, and Sri Lankan president, Ranil Wickremesinghe, have also accepted invitations.

Funeral routes from Westminster Hall to Westminster Abbey and on to Wellington Arch

Some leaders will be staying in hotels, royal palaces or embassies, sources suggested. Instructions have also been issued about permission to wear military uniforms, so long as swords are not worn.

From South Africa president, Cyril Ramaphosa, is probably the most senior African leader to announce his attendance, but the head of state of every Commonwealth country is due to attend with larger than normal delegations.

The key European leaders will be French president, Emmanuel Macron, German president, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Italian president Sergio Mattarella and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. Macron was given a chance to talk to King Charles by phone and issued another effusive note affirming his determination to improve ties with the UK.

Downing Street is set to confirm who the UK prime minister, Liz Truss, will be meeting on Friday, but it has been released that there will be a meeting with the US president, Joe Biden.

She will meet world leaders in Downing Street and at her Chevening country residence over the weekend.

The Guardian

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