All aboard the VIP shuttle bus as leaders travel together to queen’s funeral

Funeral of Queen Elizabeth – Follow the latest news as the world mourns

Denmark’s royals arrived in a four-car motorcade. Italian dignitaries rolled up in a Maserati. The King of Spain waved royally to passers-by. But many of their Majesties and Eminences had to leave their luxury cars and sit together in a fleet of buses before Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral could begin.

The complex logistics of the funeral, the first for a British monarch in the age of modern air travel, means hundreds of VIPs in London cannot receive the full red carpet treatment they would normally expect on a state visit.

After spending the night in embassies, the kings, queens, prime ministers and presidents were set off for their park and ride at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, a 17th-century retirement home for British soldiers.

Shielded behind tinted windows, some of the comers were identifiable by their license plates – SPA 1N or 1 GER – or an Australian or Qatari flag on their bonnet, while others remained incognito in unmarked cars.

Bentleys and bodyguards are not uncommon in London’s affluent diplomatic district, but joggers and cyclists were kept behind a cordon and locals living near the hospital had to be escorted home by stewards in orange vests.

Also Read :  Kamara Admits Falsifying Travel Documents To Escape Europe As Police Closed In; Role of the Mandingo Community in France Under Scrutiny – FrontPageAfrica

As photographers exchanged notes on who was arriving, a few locals stopped by to get a little bit of history. A Brazilian expat, Pedro, was waiting to see his country’s President, Jair Bolsonaro, arrive at the security cordon.

A few Chelsea Pensioners, as the residents of the retirement home are known, paraded through the wide, empty streets in their distinctive red uniforms, accompanied by well-groomed mourners in veils and tails.

A fleet of buses alongside US President Joe Biden's motorcade on the way to Westminster Abbey.  AP

Some leaders took the unusual arrangements with good humor, with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern saying she has often ordered her ministers to travel in carpools.

A photo emerged of William Ruto, Kenya’s newly elected president, sharing the back of a shuttle bus with his African counterparts while the leaders made the short trip to Westminster Abbey.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier praised the British organization and said although the funeral is hardly the place for politics, the post-pandemic reunion with other leaders could at least inspire further meetings.

Also Read :  OLIVER HOLT: Gareth Southgate deserves far better than to be booed by England fans

But some diplomats lobbied behind the scenes for an exception to the bus ride, successful in the case of US President Joe Biden, who arrived at the abbey in the armored limousine nicknamed The Beast.

Air Force One, his bespoke Boeing 747, was parked at London Stansted Airport as visitors descended on the UK on Sunday, to the delight of schoolchildren aboard another plane who spotted the presidential jet on the tarmac.

The Secret Service scouts Mr. Biden’s targets before he arrives, and security will be enhanced if he does so. The European Council was sitting behind a tighter ring of steel than usual when the US President made a cameo visit in March.

Dealing with Mr Biden’s motorcade was just part of the massive security operation carried out for the Queen’s funeral, carefully planned for years codenamed Operation London Bridge.

Funeral of Queen Elizabeth II – in pictures

London’s Metropolitan Police described the funeral as the largest operation in the force’s 193-year history, one more challenging than riots, demonstrations, anniversaries and three Olympic Games.

Also Read :  Finlay Bealham: Eyes on Munster, New pitch excitement, Best fans in the world

Police vans were even pulled in from Scotland to bolster the numbers, while snipers were spotted on the roof of Chelsea Hospital and a building overlooking Parliament Square.

Another problem for diplomats is that the end of the mourning period coincides with the start of the UN General Assembly in New York, a date marked on the calendars of heads of state long before the Queen’s death.

A number of countries squared this circle by sending a ceremonial head of state such as a king, queen, emperor or president to London, while a prime minister or chancellor traveled to New York.

A select few guests have been invited for face-to-face meetings with Prime Minister Liz Truss during their trip to London, although a meeting with Mr Biden has been postponed until they are both at the United Nations.

The others were offered a reception at Lancaster House with British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly in a final nod to the crowd of VIP guests before returning to their home capitals where they no longer need to share the limelight.

Updated September 19, 2022 at 11:02 am

Source link