Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral adds a major event to world leaders’ already busy September schedule.
Dozens of world leaders had been planning to be in New York for the 77th UN General Assembly (UNGA), which is running from Sept. 13-27, to attend the high-level debate that starts on Sept. 20.
The Queen’s funeral is being held in London’s Westminster Abbey on Sept. 19. The closing date for RSVPs is today (Sept. 15), giving organizers just a few days to confirm the guest list and chart out a seating plan.
⚰️ Who’s going to the Queen’s funeral?
More than 500 heads of states and foreign dignitaries are expected to pay their respects in person, including US president Joe Biden, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, and Sri Lankan president Ranil Wickremesinghe, among others.
But the unforeseen event has certainly forced some swift changes of plans. For instance, New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern was due to fly to New York on Sept. 17, but has now decided to go to London first. “I will prioritize, along with the governor general, doing our duty representing New Zealand and passing on the condolences of our whole nation,” she said. Ardern is traveling by commercial planes both to London and to New York.
Ardern is not the only one jet-setting across continents. For instance, Bangladeshi prime minister Sheikh Hasina will attend the funeral and then fly to New York, where she is scheduled to deliver an address on Sept. 23. South Korean president Yoon Suk-yeol is also expected to attend both events, as he’s scheduled to speak at the UN meeting on Sept. 20.
✈️ Fun flying fact
The Royal Family requested funeral attendees to fly commercial and avoid helicopters, but Australian prime minister Anthony Albanese is traveling on his private jet. Fittingly so, given his nickname “Airbus Albo,” which he earned because of his frequent foreign jaunts with little care for his enormous carbon footprint.
✋ One for the funeral, another for UNGA
Many countries will avoid the song-and-dance of navigating the two clashing events. How? Because they’re sending different people to the two different events.
On the very day Japan’s emperor and empress pay their respects to the Queen, prime minister Fumio Kishida will buckle up for the UNGA.
In India’s case, prime minister Narendra Modi is attending neither. Instead, president Droupadi Murmu will represent India at the Queen’s funeral and external affairs minister S. Jaishankar will hold down the fort at the UN.
As for Russian president Vladimir Putin, he will go to neither event—he was not invited to the Queen’s funeral because of the war in Ukraine, and foreign minister Sergey Lavrov will head the country’s delegation in New York.