The queen’s funeral becomes its own United Nations

In a re-imagining of times gone by, Buckingham Palace stood at the pinnacle of global power – if only for a day. Hundreds of world leaders and dignitaries attended King Charles III ahead of the funeral of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, on Monday. in the main London residence of the British royal family. High-ranking officials from nearly 200 countries and territories are expected to attend the funeral, including President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden, heads of government and states from near and far, and a diverse cast of kings and queens from other nations.

Authorities in London believe around 1 million mourners will descend on the central areas of the city and fill the streets to watch the Queen’s coffin travel on a carriage to Westminster Abbey before later being buried at St .George’s Chapel reached at Windsor. Britain has not held such a procedure since Winston Churchill’s state funeral in 1965. The world has probably not witnessed a commemoration of this magnitude since December 2013, when tens of thousands packed a stadium in Johannesburg to celebrate the life and legacy of anti-apartheid hero and former South African President Nelson Mandela.

The uniqueness of the moment is enhanced by its timing. Many of the heads of state and government gathered in London had to mess up the originally planned trip to New York, where the annual high-level session of the UN General Assembly is about to begin. The crowds of VIPs are causing all sorts of headaches for Palace Protocol staff and British Foreign Office staff, who take requests from delegations from nearly 500 foreign dignitaries. They were forced to place eminent figures such as the Emperor of Japan on shuttle buses for the funeral, under severe logistical constraints.

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“All the world leaders are on a field trip,” British comedian Jimmy Carr joked to my colleagues. “And do you know who’s actually in charge? For those 45 minutes, the leader of the world is the bus driver. “My bus, my rules! Sit in the back. North Korea, get along with South Korea. Sit down! China, what are you doing in the back? Sit down!'”

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In reality, North Korea was not invited, while China is sending Vice President Wang Qishan to the funeral, not President Xi Jinping. There are some other notable, if unsurprising, absences: Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov were not invited to the funeral, another sign of the Kremlin’s isolation since the start of its major invasion of Ukraine. The Russian Foreign Ministry described the failure to invite Putin as “deeply immoral”.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman appears to have decided not to attend after activists criticized the royal family’s volatile human rights record. But for those who made the trip, the gathering — akin to Mandela’s funeral, when former President Barack Obama shook hands with his Cuban counterpart — could prove fertile ground for geopolitical encounters.

Some heads of state have already landed in hot water for their lack of decency or for skipping the much-vaunted queue to pay their respects to the in-state queen. Armenian President Vahagn Khachaturyan has caused an uproar in the British tabloid when he was seen posing for a photo taken by one of his staffers in front of the Queen’s coffin. The right-wing Daily Mail sneered at Antigua and Barbuda’s “rebellious” Prime Minister Gaston Browne, who shook hands with the king at Buckingham Palace days after he revived plans for a referendum to decide whether to convert his nation into a republic shall be.

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For Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, the event provided the far-right arsonist with an opportunity to assert himself on the world stage in the last few weeks of a deeply divisive and heated election campaign. Bolsonaro has previously blamed Charles for his environmental campaigns. On Sunday, Bolsonaro voiced local supporters a balcony in Mayfair about the evils of abortion and “gender ideology”. Domestic politics will also shadow his use of the bully pulpit in New York later in the week.

Forget the private jet and limousine. Leaders banished to buses for Queen’s funeral.

For British Prime Minister Liz Truss, the moment has given her something of a respite. The Queen died just two days after Truss was named Prime Minister, and nationwide grief over her death has cast a shadow over what may have been an unrelenting first few weeks in power amid an inflationary cost-of-living crisis and the threat of industrial action.

Truss used the weekend before the funeral to quietly receive a number of world leaders at 10 Downing Street, marking the start of her tenure as Prime Minister in Geopolitics. This included a somewhat encouraging meeting with the Prime Minister of Ireland, who is embroiled in tense discussions with Britain’s Tory government over their differences over the post-Brexit deal that governs conditions in Northern Ireland.

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“The fact that so many leaders are flocking to London from around the world… gives the new Prime Minister ample time for soft diplomacy, those quiet talks before and after the funeral that will help her achieve her goal – if it’s attainable.” is – to reach ‘global Britain’,” British political historian Anthony Seldon told the Associated Press.

The funeral forced Truss and Biden to postpone a scheduled meeting this weekend to later in the week as world leaders make the journey across the Atlantic to the United Nations. The world’s leading international organization also did its part to honor the Queen with a day of speeches and remembrance at a session of the General Assembly last Thursday.

Secretary-General António Guterres described Elizabeth as a figure who “defended geopolitical gravity” for seven decades and “an unparalleled pillar on the world stage”.

“When our institution and Queen Elizabeth were both young, she stood at that very podium and called on leaders to demonstrate their commitment to the ideals of the United Nations Charter,” Guterres said before delivering her last address to that body of the year 2010, where she was quoted as demanding that “in tomorrow’s world, if we really want to be the United Nations, we must work together as hard as we have ever done.”

A version of this is now being assembled at her funeral. “Even in death she works, doesn’t she?” mused Christopher Matthews, a taxi driver in Edinburgh, to my colleagues.

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