World leaders and monarchs gave a final salute to Queen Elizabeth tonight. U.S. President Biden and the royal couples of Sweden and Spain, among others, visited Westminster Hall, where the coffin containing Elizabeth‘s body is located.
Until tomorrow 6:30am local time, everyone in Westminster Hall can say goodbye to the queen. At 11 a.m. (12 p.m. Dutch time), the funeral ceremony will take place in Westminster Abbey, after which Elizabeth will be transferred to Windsor Castle. For days, visitors have been queuing for many hours for a moment at the coffin in Westminster Hall.
Many dignitaries arrived in London over the weekend. They were able, through a special entrance, to give a final salute to Elizabeth. They also met tonight at a reception in Buckingham Palace hosted by King Charles. At 8pm local time, across Britain, there was a minute of silence to remember the queen.
President Biden and his wife Jill appeared in Westminster Hall in the early evening, where they looked silently at the coffin from a stage for some time. Afterwards, the president praised the dignity and service of the late queen. He also called her “decent” and “venerable”.
Dignitaries included Swedish King Carl Gustaaf and Queen Sofia, as well as Spanish King Felipe and Queen Letizia. The Swedish royal couple dressed in black made a small bow to the late queen.
Ukrainian presidential wife Zelenska, French President Macron and Belgian King Philip were also in the old parliament building. Queen Willem-Alexander, Queen Máxima and Princess Beatrix arrived at Buckingham Palace tonight for the reception. Whether they will still go to Westminster Hall is unknown.
Not all world leaders are invited to Queen Elizabeth’s funeral tomorrow. For example, Russian President Putin and Belarusian President Lukashenko were not invited due to the war in Ukraine. Nor welcome are the leaders of Myanmar, Afghanistan, Syria and Venezuela, countries with which the British government has limited or no diplomatic relationship at all.
The Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman may come. His invitation led to international outrage. According to the U.S. Secret Service CIA, the Crown Prince authorized the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, in 2018. He contradicts that.
The invitation to Chinese President Xi Jinping did not suit everyone either. China sends Vice President Wang Qishan to the funeral