US President Joe Biden joined world leaders arriving in London to pay their respects to the Queen on Sunday, signing himself as he viewed her coffin in state at Westminster Hall for the final night before her funeral.
He followed the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, the President of Singapore, Halimah Yacob, the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, the Head of State of Samoa, Tuimaleali’ifano Va’aleto’a Sualauvi II, and the President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins, among other leaders marching past the coffin alongside members of the public.
Public crowds were cleared outside Buckingham Palace in time for hundreds more foreign dignitaries to arrive on Sunday evening for a state reception in the Picture Gallery and State Apartments hosted by the King and Queen Consort ahead of the Queen’s funeral at Westminster Abbey at 11 a.m. on Monday.
They included the President of Israel, Isaac Herzog; the King of Jordan; Olena Zelenska, the first lady of Ukraine; and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
Biden, who arrived in his ‘Beast’ limousine, said: “To all the people of England, to all the people of the UK, our thoughts are with you. You were lucky to have had it for 70 years, we all were. The world is better for her. He described her as “decent, honorable and all about service”.
He said he told the King “she will be with him every step of the way”.
Hundreds of other guests arrived in coaches with tinted windows set up by the British government to limit traffic chaos.
Among those attending one of the largest gatherings of world leaders in decades were the populist President of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, the President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, and the leaders of Bangladesh, of Ghana and South Africa, as well as the Prime Minister of Ukraine, Denys Shmyhal. The Princess of Wales met Olena Zelenska during an audience at Buckingham Palace ahead of the reception.
David Manning, the UK’s former ambassador to Washington, called the event “quite exceptional”.
“There is a global response to the Queen’s death and you see that wish to be associated with her expressed in the extraordinary number of visitors to London, heads of state and heads of government,” he said. declared.
Leaders signing the condolence book at Lancaster House ahead of the reception included the prime ministers of Cameroon, Fiji, Guinea-Bissau, Jamaica, Lebanon, Mongolia, Niger and Serbia, and the presidents Armenia, Bulgaria, Ethiopia, Gabon, Georgia, Ghana, Hungary, Nigeria, North Macedonia and Poland.
In a statement, Trudeau said, “His presence throughout my life has been constant, inspiring and gracious. As Prime Minister, I benefited from his advice, his thoughtfulness and his curiosity, his sense of humour.
Trudeau had brief talks with Prime Minister Liz Truss in Downing Street, as did Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin who, amid tensions over the post-Brexit Northern Ireland protocol, said: “The opportunity is there for us to reset relationships and be aware of what we have achieved in previous years, of the obstacles that were overcome at the time.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, did not attend the funeral, it was reported on Sunday. It had been thought that he might travel to the UK to offer his condolences to the royal family, perhaps not at the funeral, but even that was condemned by human rights campaigners such as Hatice Cengiz, fiancé of Jamal Khashoggi, a critic of the kingdom, whose murder, US intelligence has concluded, was approved by the crown prince.
Saudi Arabia would instead be represented by Prince Turki bin Mohammed al Saud, the source said.
Another notable absentee was Vladimir Putin, who was among a small handful of uninvited statesmen, including the leaders of Belarus, Myanmar, North Korea and Syria.
Questions about the status of the Commonwealth realms, where King Charles is now head of state, simmered alongside the rally.
Among those who signed the condolence book set up for world leaders at Lancaster House was Sandra Mason, the President of Barbados, who replaced the Queen as leader of the Caribbean nation when it became a republic in 2021.
The King received condolences from Anthony Albanese, Australia’s Republican Prime Minister who believes his country should have an Australian head of state rather than the British monarch. Asked whether Australia should become a republic, he replied: “I don’t think now is the time to discuss these issues.”
Asked about the king’s political interventions, he said it was ‘important that the sovereign stay away from party politics’ but said he would be ‘very comfortable’ if he expressed his point of view. view on “the importance of climate change”.
John Kerry, the US envoy on climate change, made a similar point, telling the BBC when asked if the king should talk about climate change: “I really hope so…obviously, from the same way under the constitutional process, but there is no question in my mind … there is a threat to the entire planet, [a] threat to all our nations and he understands it as well as anyone on the planet.
Ardern said on Sunday she had no intention of starting the process of becoming a republic for New Zealand, although she said she expected it to happen in her lifetime.
“It’s a transition, but it’s not a jarring transition for New Zealand,” she said. “I think even the Queen herself has watched and recognized how our relationship has evolved over time.
“My observation is that there will continue to be an evolution in our relationship. I don’t believe it will be quick or soon, but over my lifetime.