Ukraine’s first lady says it was ‘great honour’ to attend Queen’s funeral

·2-min read

Ukraine’s first lady said it was a “great honour” to be present at the Queen’s state funeral, “on behalf of all Ukrainians”.

Olena Zelenska, President Volodymyr Zelensky’s wife, was among hundreds of heads of state and dignitaries from around the world gathered in Westminster Abbey for the service on Monday.

She represented her war-torn nation at the ceremony on behalf of her husband, as he continues to organise the fightback against Russian invaders.

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.

Wearing all-black, Mrs Zelenska sat by the aisle, four rows behind French President Emmanuel Macron, in the historic church.

Queen Elizabeth II funeral
Olena Zelenska sits four rows behind French President Emmanuel Macron (left) in Westminster Abbey (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

On Sunday, Mrs Zelenska visited Westminster Hall for the Queen’s lying in state to pay her respects to the Queen.

She was pictured bowing her head as she stood alongside Ukrainian prime minister Denys Shmyhal and Ukraine’s ambassador to the UK Vadym Prystaiko.

Earlier she met the Princess of Wales at Buckingham Palace, where the women where pictured sitting together.

Queen Elizabeth II death
Olena Zelenska (second right) views the Queen’s coffin in Westminster Hall (Joe Giddens/PA)

Mrs Zelenska travelled to the UK after her husband last week signed a book of condolence for the Queen.

The UK’s ambassador in Kyiv, Melinda Simmons, said she was “deeply honoured” by the president’s gesture.

“Grateful to the president for taking the time to do this given all else that is happening in (Ukraine) at this time,” she said.

Ukrainian troops have been taking part in a major counter-offensive against Russia’s forces.

Mr Zelensky appeared to be a fan of the Queen, having been given a biography of the Queen by Boris Johnson during the then-prime minister’s visit to Kyiv in June.