Chinese representatives free to attend Queen’s lying in state

·2-min read
Queen Elizabeth II’s grandchildren hold a vigil beside her coffin as it lies in state on the catafalque in Westminster Hall (Yui Mok/PA) (PA Wire)
Queen Elizabeth II’s grandchildren hold a vigil beside her coffin as it lies in state on the catafalque in Westminster Hall (Yui Mok/PA) (PA Wire)

Chinese representatives will be able to attend the Queen’s lying in state along with the rest of the dignitaries invited to her funeral, the UK Parliament has suggested.

But it is understood the country’s ambassador to the UK is still not welcome on the estate.

It was expected the Chinese official delegation would be barred by Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle from entering Westminster Hall to view the late monarch’s coffin.

But asked if it had been banned, a Parliament spokesperson told the PA news agency on Saturday that heads of state – or their representatives – who are invited to the funeral are also welcome at the lying in state that precedes it.

According to Erskine May – known as the “bible” of parliamentary procedure – Westminster Hall is under the joint control of the Lord Great Chamberlain and the Speakers of both the Commons and the Lords.

The Parliament spokesperson said: “The head of states (or their representatives) who have been invited to attend the state funeral in Westminster Abbey are also invited to attend the lying in state in Westminster Hall.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping is not scheduled to attend the Westminster Abbey service on Monday, instead sending his deputy, Wang Qishan.

Two sanctioned Tory MPs, Sir Iain Duncan Smith and Tim Loughton, had been raising concerns about the delegation’s possible attendance, arguing it was “extraordinary” it had received an invitation.

Last September, Sir Lindsay and his counterpart in the upper chamber, Lord McFall, blocked the Chinese ambassador to the UK, Zheng Zeguang, from visiting Parliament.

The Commons Speaker argued at the time it would not be “appropriate” for the ambassador to meet at the Commons while seven British parliamentarians remain sanctioned.

Six months earlier, China imposed sanctions on seven parliamentarians, also including Tory MPs Tom Tugendhat, Nusrat Ghani and Neil O’Brien.

They are all vocal critics of Beijing, having spoken out against the treatment of the Uighur people in Xinjiang.

It is understood the Chinese ambassador is still not welcome in Parliament.