Ukraine’s first lady Olena Zelenska ‘honoured’ to attend Queen’s funeral

·2-min read
The First Lady of Ukraine, Olena Zelenska views the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II, lying in state on the catafalque in Westminster Hall (Getty Images)
The First Lady of Ukraine, Olena Zelenska views the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II, lying in state on the catafalque in Westminster Hall (Getty Images)

Ukraine’s first lady Olena Zelenska has said it was a “great honour” to attend the Queen’s funeral on Monday “on behalf of all Ukrainians”.

Paying tribute to the monarch following her funeral service at Westminster Abbey, Mrs Zelenska said the Queen’s attention to Ukraine was “an important signal of support”.

“She wished us better times and shared our desire for freedom. We will always remember it with deep gratitude,” she wrote on Twitter.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky did not attend the funeral but signed a book of condolence for the Queen at the British Embassy in Kyiv last week.

On Sunday, Mrs Zelenska said the Queen had “repeatedly” demonstrated her support for Ukraine in its resistance against Russian aggression at an audience at Buckingham Palace with the Princess of Wales. She also visited Westminster Hall to see the monarch lying in state before her meeting with Catherine.

“The Queen shared the values that Ukraine stands for today: freedom, the right to one's own home, language, culture and country,” she said. “We have repeatedly heard words of support from her.

“On Independence Day, she wished us better times in this extremely difficult year. In an address to the British Parliament, she spoke about supporting Ukraine.

“It is very important for us to know that such a world leader of an epoch, a leader with an impeccable reputation and morals, was with us.”

Millions of people watched around the globe as the nation staged a final goodbye to its longest-serving monarch on Monday morning.

King Charles III was left close to tears during a state funeral service at Westminster Abbey, where the Archbishop of Canterbury described the Queen as having touched “a multitude of lives” and having been a “joyful” figure for many.

Mrs Zelenska, 44, was among hundreds of world leaders and crowned heads who gathered in London for the funeral service. US President Joe Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron and Japan’s Emperor Naruhito were among those in attendance.