Syria, Venezuela and Afghanistan not invited to Queen’s funeral

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Invitations to the Queen’s state funeral have not been sent to Syria, Venezuela or Taliban-ruled Afghanistan.

While most countries around the world have been invited to send their head of state, those three countries join Russia, Belarus and Myanmar on the list of nations not asked to send a representative.

North Korea and Nicaragua have been invited only at ambassadorial level, joining Iran in that category.

Mounted police pass along The Mall ahead of the ceremonial procession of the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall
Mounted police pass along The Mall ahead of the ceremonial procession of the coffin of the Queen from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall (Victoria Jones/PA)

All holders of the Victoria Cross or George Cross will be able to attend the Queen’s funeral, the PA news agency understands.

Invitations are being sent to most nations with which the UK has diplomatic ties.

The UK does not have diplomatic relations with Syria or Venezuela, while the political situation in Afghanistan since the Taliban swept to power a year ago means no representative has been invited from Kabul.

While most nations can send their leader or appointed delegate plus a guest, the Commonwealth realms, which retain the monarch as head of state, are being granted extra representation.

The realms can send prime ministers plus a guest, governors general plus a guest and the high commissioner.

They are also allowed to bring 10 ordinary citizens – Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has already said his country’s representatives had been invited by Buckingham Palace for their “extraordinary contributions to their communities”.

The complexity of organising the funeral, with dignitaries from around the world expected, has been compared by Whitehall insiders to organising hundreds of state visits within a matter of days, while normally there might only be two or three a year.

It presents a huge logistical, diplomatic and security challenge, with practice runs taking place in the dead of night.

The complex seating plan can only be formalised once guests have responded to the invitations – the deadline is on Thursday.

Officials will have to consider various factors including the levels of seniority of the mourners and their guests.

Overseas dignitaries are also invited to attend the lying in state in Westminster Hall, with representatives of the realms expected to attend on Saturday and other leaders on Sunday.

A book of condolence for leaders will be opened at Lancaster House in London, while officials are hand-writing around 1,000 invitations for the King’s reception on Sunday and the funeral service itself, which will go to heads of state and government and other VIPs.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly is also expected to hold a reception for world leaders at Church House in Westminster on Monday.

The coffin of Queen Elizabeth II, draped in the Royal Standard, is carried on a horse-drawn gun carriage of the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery, during the ceremonial procession from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall, London
The coffin of the Queen, draped in the Royal Standard, is carried on a horse-drawn gun carriage during the ceremonial procession from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall (Vadim Ghirda/PA)

No guest list has been published yet, but US President Joe Biden was among the first to declare he will be flying in with his wife Jill.

The leaders of most Commonwealth countries are expected to be at the funeral, with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern saying she will make the nearly 24-hour journey with a delegation including Maori King Kiingi Tuheitia.

Canada’s Justin Trudeau has also confirmed his attendance.

France’s Emmanuel Macron, Germany’s Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Italy’s Sergio Mattarella, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro are among the presidents attending, along with the European Commission’s Ursula von der Leyen.

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

The Japanese government confirmed Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako will travel for the funeral.

Traditionally, Japanese emperors stay away from funerals because of a cultural belief based in the Shinto religion that considers death impure, so the decision to attend the Queen’s funeral on Monday underscores the importance and the deep bond between the royal families.