World leaders descended on London last night amid a row over whether Chinese delegates should be allowed to visit the Queen’s recumbent state.
Critics of China’s poor human rights record claimed that fearful Foreign Ministry officials had “leaned” on parliamentary authorities to allow the Beijing delegation to avoid a diplomatic spat.
But this was denied by both sides – and last night it was confirmed that the delegation, led by Vice-President Wang Qishan, would be able to pay their respects.
It had previously been reported that Chinese officials would be suspended in response to sanctions China has imposed on five MPs and two colleagues who criticized Beijing. However, the ban only applies to staff at the London embassy.
In another row, critics called for Saudi ruler Mohammed bin Salman not to attend the funeral in protest at the suspected murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The country’s embassy in London said the Crown Prince would be in the UK this weekend for his first visit since Mr Khashoggi was assassinated in 2018. US intelligence reports claim the assassination was personally ordered by the Crown Prince.
Khashoggi’s fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, said: ‘The Crown Prince must not be part of this mourning and must not stain her. [the Queen’s] memory.’
The diplomatic spats unfolded as dozens of heads of state, political leaders and dignitaries descended on the capital tonight for an extraordinary reception at Buckingham Palace, hosted by King Charles.
Traditionally, a Japanese emperor stays away from funerals, except those of his own parents, because of a cultural belief that considers death unclean. But Japan’s Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako (pictured) were seen yesterday leaving Tokyo – highlighting the deep bond between the families
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (pictured) signed a book of condolence at Lancaster House after King Charles met other world leaders at Buckingham Palace
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese were among the leaders to visit the Queen’s Secretary of State yesterday.
They also signed a book of condolence at Lancaster House along with other dignitaries, including Dame Froyla Tzalam, Governor General of Belize.
Trudeau and Albanian then met King Charles with the leaders of 14 Commonwealth countries where he is head of state. Earlier in the day, the king held a reception for his representatives in Britain’s former colonies ranging from Antigua and Barbuda to Tuvalu.
US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill were due to land at Heathrow last night.
The president traveled on Air Force One with Rufus Gifford, the head of protocol, White House ambassador, who will make sure he avoids his signature gaffes when he meets the new king.
Dame Froyla Tzalam (pictured), Governor General of Belize also signed the condolence register at the palace
Joe Biden and wife Jill were seen leaving the US earlier today (pictured) while en route to London for the Queen’s funeral on Monday
Mr Biden was supposed to go to the berth today. After that, the president must sign an official condolence book before attending the reception at Buckingham Palace.
There has been concern among some world leaders after Biden was told by British authorities that he could make his own travel and security arrangements, while they were told they would have to take buses to the funeral tomorrow.
Among those catching the bus are Japan’s Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako, who were due to arrive in the UK last night.
Their decision to attend the Queen’s funeral underscores the importance and deep bond between the royal families. Traditionally, a Japanese emperor stays away from funerals, except those of his own parents, because of a cultural belief based on the Shinto religion that considers death unclean.
Members of royal families across Europe – including Spain’s King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia, Denmark’s Queen Margrethe II and her heir, Crown Prince Frederik – are set to arrive today as they have less distance to travel.