Liz Truss hopes for meeting with Joe Biden ahead of Queen’s funeral

·5-min read

Liz Truss hopes to hold a private meeting with Joe Biden when the US President visits Britain for the Queen’s funeral.

Their first meeting since she became Prime Minister would take place against a backdrop of disputes over the post-Brexit Northern Ireland Protocol and difficulties working towards a trade deal with the White House.

Downing Street is set to confirm who she will be meeting on Friday, but a number of head-to-heads with visiting world leaders are due to take place between No 10 and the Chevening country residence over the weekend.

She is not expected to meet Chinese vice-president Wang Qishan, who is set to attend the state funeral on Monday instead of leader Xi Jinping.

Several hundred dignitaries from around the world will be in London to pay their respects to the Queen, in what is set to be one of the biggest logistical and diplomatic events in the UK in decades.

No 10 declined to describe the conversations with allies as formal bilateral meetings, and instead portrayed them as chats to offer condolences over the Queen’s death, during which politics is likely to come up.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “There won’t be formal bilaterals in the way we normally recognise them.

“But we will have a significant number of world leaders, heads of state in the country. She will be meeting a small proportion of those over the weekend.

“These will be opportunities to discuss memories of Her Majesty, but in some instances it will be the first time they’ve met since she became Prime Minister.”

A UK meeting with the US President, who will attend the funeral with First Lady Jill Biden, would ease the pressure on Ms Truss’s expected visit to New York for a UN summit next week.

Chevening will be used as one base for meetings rather than the Prime Minister’s country residence of Chequers, which was undergoing what has been described as routine maintenance work after Boris Johnson’s exit.

French President Emmanuel Macron confirmed his attendance at the funeral after offering his country’s condolences in a call to the King.

Mr Macron tweeted about the “unbreakable” ties between France and the UK, as he promised to “strengthen” the relationship between the UK and France by “following the path” of the late Queen.

It was unclear whether he will be among the world leaders Ms Truss will meet, but if they do it would be a chance for her to clear up where their relationship stands.

During her campaign to become Tory leader she sparked controversy by saying the “jury’s out” over whether Mr Macron is a “friend or foe”.

The Queen receiving Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau during an audience at Windsor Castle in 2022
Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau has confirmed his attendance (Steve Parsons/PA)

There have also been suggestions she could speak to Irish Taoiseach Micheal Martin on the margins of the funeral, amid strained relations between the two countries over the continuing row about the Northern Ireland Protocol.

About 500 dignitaries from around the world will head to London for the state funeral.

They will join members of the royal family, UK prime ministers past and present and key figures from public life at Westminster Abbey – the historic church which can hold about 2,000 people – at 11am on Monday.

Representatives from the Commonwealth realms – the nations which had the Queen as head of state – will also be able to attend the committal service in Windsor Castle.

Male dignitaries at the funeral will be advised to wear morning dress or dark lounge suits with a black tie, with dark day dresses and hats for female mourners.

National dress may also be worn while serving military officers can wear ceremonial uniforms without swords.

The leaders of most Commonwealth countries are expected to attend the funeral, with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern saying she will make the nearly 24-hour journey with a delegation of five others.

Her Canadian and Australian counterparts, Justin Trudeau and Anthony Albanese, have also confirmed their attendance.

But India’s prime minister Narendra Modi, who is expected to talk to Russia’s Vladimir Putin in Uzbekistan this week, is not expected to come to the UK, with president Droupadi Murmu being dispatched instead.

Liz Truss and Irish premier Micheal Martin attend a Service of Reflection for the Queen at St Anne’s Cathedral in Belfast
There have been suggestions Ms Truss will speak with Irish premier Micheal Martin on the margins of the Queen’s funeral, amid tensions over the Northern Ireland Protocol (Liam McBurney/PA)

Germany’s President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Italy’s President Sergio Mattarella and Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro are among those attending, along with the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen.

King Felipe of Spain and his wife, Queen Letizia, are among the European royals who will attend.

Emperor Naruhito of Japan is also set to travel to London, in what would be his first overseas trip since ascending the throne in 2019.

Local media reported that Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu will attend in the place of president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Invitations to the Queen’s funeral have not been sent to Russia or Belarus against the backdrop of the invasion of Ukraine. Taliban-ruled Afghanistan was also being excluded, as was Syria and Myanmar.

The seating plan, which could prove to be highly complicated due to the various protocol and political issues thrown up by a gathering of this size, is yet to be finalised.