The summit of the century for Elizabeth. A diplomatic and protocol puzzle

from Luigi Ippolito

Biden: better world thanks to her. Moscow complains of exclusion, Prince bin Salman renounces

LONDON – The international summit of the century: with
500 dignitaries from 200 countries, including about 100 heads of state and government, the funeral Elizabeth’s are also a great diplomatic event. You have to go back to the funeral of Nelson Mandela, in 2013, or to those of Pope John Paul II, in 2005, to find something similar: and certainly in Great Britain the only precedent is the funeral of George VI, the father of Elizabeth, in 1952.

A big gesture, like the handshake between Barack Obama and Fidel Castro at Mandela’s funeral, is not expected to start the thaw between the United States and Cuba: but yesterday, at the reception offered at Buckingham Palace by King Charles and the queen consort Camilla, there will have been approaches and reconciliations that will serve to advance future relations.

Yesterday at the Palazzo was a more informal moment than today’s funeral: guests were served drinks and canapes in the Picture gallery, the royal art gallery that houses priceless masterpieces of European painting, before moving to the State Rooms. US President Joe Biden, accompanied by his wife Jill, arrived in his official car, while the other dignitaries were transported by bus. Biden signed the condolence book and paid tribute to the Queen who, he said, somehow reminded him of his mother: The better world because of Elizabethcommented the president.

Such a gathering could not be without problems. Strong criticism had aroused the invitation to the Saudi prince Mohammed bin Salman, implicated in the assassination of the dissident Jamal Khashoggi: and in the end he gave up coming. While Moscow dared to define the British government’s decision not to invite Russian despot Vladimir Putin as deeply immoral: An attempt – said Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova – to use the national tragedy that touched the heart of millions of people around the world, for geopolitical purposes to settle accounts with our country. Not even the leaders of Belarus, Burma, Syria, Afghanistan and Iran were invited: the presence of China also aroused discontent and in the end Beijing sent the vice-president.

Another puzzle was the protocol. First of all British diplomacy had to convince foreign dignitaries to arrive by bus this morning at Westminster Abbey: but an exception had to be made for Biden, as well as for the French president Macron, who never wants to feel second to none, and for security reasons also for the Israeli president. Incredibly, the emperor of Japan did not complain. I don’t understand all this turmoil about the bus, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern commented pragmatically.

Another puzzle was the seating arrangement in the Abbey. The order of precedence of the royal families was simple, based on the seniority of the kingdom, but for the heads of state individual and political sensitivities had to be taken into account: several Arab leaders, for example, would not have liked to find themselves alongside the Israelis.

Parallel to all this, even the new British prime minister Liz Truss had the opportunity to weave her diplomatic web: significantly, he met only the leaders of the Anglosphere, namely Canada, Australia and New Zealand (Biden will see him on Wednesday in New York, at the United Nations), in addition to the Irish premier
. A worldview resulting from the fact that Liz Truss, at the last Conservative congress, never once mentioned Europe in her speech.

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September 19, 2022 (change September 19, 2022 | 07:25)

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The summit of the century for Elizabeth. A diplomatic and protocol puzzle

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