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The funeral for Queen Elizabeth II is expected to draw many world leaders to London, possibly causing the city or large portions of it to shut down ahead of the event.
“Due to the amount of dignitaries flying in, the Metropolitan Police Force is getting to the point where they might end up saying London is closed,” Hilary Fordwich, an expert on the Royal Family, told Fox News Digital.
Queen Elizabeth II with President Biden in the Grand Corridor during their visit to Windsor Castle June 13, 2021. (Steve Parsons/WPA Pool/Getty Images)
The queen’s state funeral is expected to be a massive event, with leaders such as Japanese Emperor Naruhito, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan all expected to attend.
But the list will not include Russian President Vladimir Putin, who Fordwich said was the only world leader who was not invited amid Russia’s invasion of neighboring Ukraine.
President Biden and first lady Jill Biden will also be in attendance. Nile Gardiner, a former foreign policy advisor under Margaret Thatcher, told Fox News Digital the American dignitaries will likely be a visible presence.
Finland President Sauli Niinisto attends a press conference on Finland’s security policy decisions at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, May 15, 2022. (Heikki Saukkomaa/Lehtiuva via AP)
“The seating plan has been very closely guarded by the palace,” Gardiner said. “I would expect, of course, the President of the United States to be in a very prominent position near the front, as the United States is Great Britain’s closest friend and ally.”
Other foreign leaders who have announced plans to attend include Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, Belgium’s King Philippe and Queen Mathilde, Finland President Sauli Niinisto, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Hungarian President Katalin Novák, Irish President Michael Higgins, Israeli President Isaac Herzog, Italian President Sergio Mattarella, Jamaica Prime Minister Andrew Holness, Netherlands King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima, New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Latvian President Egils Levits, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh, Polish President Andrzej Duda, Portugal President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, Spain’s King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia Ortiz, Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe, Tonga King George Tupou VI and Trinidad and Tobago President Paula-Mae Weekes.
Some foreign leaders are expected to send high-ranking officials to represent their country. Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced Monday that the country was sending Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard to the funeral.
With seating arrangements so tight, each country is permitted one representative and a guest, meaning former presidents and prime ministers are not expected to be in attendance.
While Gardiner expects security to be tight, he does not believe all of London will be shut down.
President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
“Large parts of central London will be closed to the vehicles, and the area around Westminster will be largely shut down … so the heart of the city around Westminster will be closed to all vehicles,” Gardiner said. “I expect that the public will be able to walk around most of it …. but you’re not going to see the whole of London shut down.”
Michael Lee is a writer at Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @UAMichaelLee