Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral will be huge, one of the biggest international events in probably forty or fifty years. World leaders, presidents, prime ministers, foreign monarchs, Commonwealth representatives, not to mention British domestic VIPs will all gather in London starting this coming weekend for the funeral on the 19th. The security and travel situations will be catastrophic. So the British government’s solution is to have world leaders gather off-site, miles away from Westminster Abbey, then get bused in. They’re apparently also telling world leaders that they can’t bring their own cars? President Biden literally travels with a special armored vehicle and the Secret Service isn’t going to be happy about any of this.
Foreign heads of state and their spouses heading to London for the state funeral for Queen Elizabeth II have been asked to arrive in the U.K. on commercial flights and banned from using helicopters to get around. World leaders have also been told they cannot use their own state cars to attend the funeral at Westminster Abbey on September 19 — and will instead be bussed in en masse from a site in west London.
“Can you imagine Joe Biden on the bus?” one foreign ambassador based in London complained via WhatsApp message early Sunday.
Official documents obtained by POLITICO also confirm that only the heads of state and their spouses or partners from each country have been invited to attend the funeral, which is shaping up to be one of the most significant international events hosted by the U.K. in recent times. Westminster Abbey will be so packed for the event that it will be impossible for more than a single, senior representative per country and their other half to attend, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) lamented in the official protocol message regarding the event.
In the document, sent to overseas embassies late Saturday night, the department said it “regrets that, because of limited space at the state funeral service and associated events, no other members of the principal guest’s family, staff or entourage may be admitted.”
Heads of state unable to attend may choose someone else as their official representative, such as a head of government or senior minister.
According to the same document, King Charles III will host a reception for all the overseas leaders at Buckingham Palace on the evening before the funeral service.
On the day of the funeral, the heads of state and their partners will arrive at Westminster Abbey in escorted coaches from a location in west London, where “because of tight security and road restrictions” they will be required to leave their own cars.
“Multiple and comprehensive layers of security will be in place across London and at all the official venues used for the state funeral and associated events,” a second FCDO document detailing the logistical arrangements for those traveling from overseas states.
So much for President Biden’s plan to not only attend the funeral, but to bring a delegation of American leaders. It sounds like Pres. Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden will be the only representatives allowed. So much for the British government’s new priority to make nice with the Biden administration too – putting Pres. Biden on a bus and telling him that he can’t use his secure, armored vehicle will not go over well. The visiting dignitaries are also being told that they can’t use helicopters within London, which is also pretty rich considering the Windsors have been using helicopters as their main form of travel for years now.
This whole mess is particularly revealing though – it shows that Operation London Bridge hadn’t actually taken into account the very real security details and security issues of visiting foreign leaders. It also shows that Liz Truss’s new government is in way over its head.
Our statement on the death of Queen Elizabeth II. pic.twitter.com/0n7pmVVg2w
— President Biden (@POTUS) September 8, 2022
Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Backgrid.