London: President Droupadi Murmu will be among an estimated 500 world leaders and foreign dignitaries, including kings and queens and heads of state and government, who will attend Queen Elizabeth II’s state funeral at Westminster Abbey on Monday.
The Ministry of External Affairs confirmed the President’s three-day UK visit on Wednesday as India’s head of state invited for the state funeral in London. It marks the first state funeral in the UK in 57 years, last held at the Abbey for Britain’s war-time Prime Minister Winston Churchill in 1965.
According to official reports in London, King Charles III will host a reception for the overseas leaders at Buckingham Palace in London on Sunday evening before the funeral service on Monday at 11am local time.
Visiting heads of state, including President Murmu, are expected to attend the reception. Earlier on Sunday, she is expected to attend the Lying-in-State of the Queen’s coffin at Westminster Hall and sign a condolence book and deliver a condolence message on behalf of the Indian government at Lancaster House near Buckingham Palace.
After the funeral service on Monday, the Queen’s coffin will be taken in procession from Westminster Abbey to St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. A reception in Windsor is likely to include the visiting heads of state from Commonwealth nations and key UK allies.
A second reception will take place at Church House within the Abbey grounds in London for other visiting dignitaries, including senior government ministers and diplomats.
Meanwhile, the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict has had a dominating influence on what is one of the UK’s most significant diplomatic events in recent history.
According to UK media reports, Russia, Belarus and Myanmar have not been extended an invitation to the state funeral.
Myanmar, which has also supported Moscow, is not on the invite list as the UK has not had formal diplomatic relations with the South-east Asian country since a military coup removed Aung San Suu Kyi’s government last year. While invited, Ukraine President Volodymr Zelensky is unlikely to attend given the ongoing conflict.
In what is also considered one of the biggest logistical challenges in the days ahead for the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), some countries with which the UK shares less than friendly relations, such as Iran, will only be represented at an ambassadorial level.
Some reports of world leaders being transported by bus to the Abbey on the day of the funeral do not apply to every visiting dignitary, with US President Joe Biden expected to arrive in his armoured Cadillac known as the Beast .
Many of the other world leaders will also use their own vehicles, with invitees being requested to be flexible in order to avoid gridlock in the heart of London on the day of the funeral.
Besides Biden, world leaders who have confirmed their attendance so far include the prime ministers of New Zealand, Canada and Australia, President Ramaphosa of South Africa and President Steinmeier of Germany. —PTI
Monarchs expected to attend include King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of Belgium, King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden, King Willem-Alexander and Queen M xima of the Netherlands and King Felipe and Queen Letizia of Spain.