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No private planes and by bus: the strict protocol to attend the funeral of Elizabeth II

Updated: Nov 23, 2022

International leaders will not be able to attend Elizabeth II's funeral in official cars or private flights and will have to share a bus.

On Monday, September 19, the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II will be held at Westminster Abbey. According to official sources, around 2,000 world leaders are expected to attend, including Spanish King Emeritus Juan Carlos I, King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia.

The British government has put in place strict rules to avoid overcrowding the City of London, and foreign heads of state have been urged to travel on commercial flights whenever possible, as Politico reports. Heathrow Airport will not have facilities to receive private flights, so those who choose to travel on private flights will be directed to the less busy airports that are located on the outskirts of the city.

Taking into account that a single hour of private plane can generate about two tons of CO₂, and it is common to see the different heads of state travel in their official aircraft, these restrictions will mean a break from the pollution to which the country will be exposed during the ten days that the Operation London Bridge will last.

Arrival at Westminster

Only heads of state and their spouses or partners from each country have been invited to attend the funeral, which is shaping up to be one of the biggest international events hosted by the UK in recent times.

Helicopter travel will also be prohibited, as will movements in private cars; the latter must be parked at a meeting point for security reasons. Thus, international guests will be transferred to Westminster by bus, accompanied by a police escort.

The ceremony

On Sunday, September 18, King Charles III will host a reception at Buckingham Palace, at which time foreign leaders will be able to sign the book of condolences at Lancaster House. During their stay there, they will have a total of three minutes to pay their respects to the Queen.

The next day, her state funeral will be held at 11 a.m. (12 p.m. Spanish time), and will be broadcast on different television channels such as the BBC. Following the ceremony in Westminster, international visitors will be escorted on foot to Dean's Yard - at Westminster Abbey - where Foreign Secretary James Cleavery will host a reception. They will then be transferred by bus again to the place where they had parked their official cars, according to Politico.

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