The UK and US governments have played down suggestions that Joe Biden could be banned from using a helicopter and forced to travel by bus when he and world leaders gather in London for the Queen’s funeral next week.
Speculation over travel arrangements for foreign dignitaries due to attend the service next Monday intensified on Sunday after government documents were released indicating that foreign heads of state should take a bus en masse to Westminster Abbey rather than from use private cars.
The advice, seen by the Guardian and first reported by Politico, sets out strict rules for the dozens of presidents, kings, queens and prime ministers who are expected to attend funerals, urging them to travel on commercial flights to avoid putting too much pressure on London. airports.
The protocol message also stated that international guests should keep their delegations as small as possible and that funeral invitations were ideally limited to the head of state and his wife.
Like his predecessors, Biden – who confirmed his attendance over the weekend – typically travels on foreign trips by helicopter and in the heavily armored presidential car known as the Beast.
Asked about the information on Monday, the spokeswoman for the new British Prime Minister, Liz Truss, stressed that “arrangements for different leaders will vary”, and said the documents in question were merely indicative.
A senior US official said the White House received the generic invitation letter, limiting attendance to the head of state and his wife.
White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre also told reporters the invitation had only been extended to the president and first lady.
When asked if Biden would bring former US presidents with him – if he was allowed to do so – Jean-Pierre said such a decision would be made by the UK government.
“They decide who gets invited,” she said. “Again, the invitation was reserved for the president and the first lady. It is up to them how they are going to proceed with the invitations, and they have.
It’s unclear to what extent Biden will receive special treatment. When the US President visits London, Air Force One tends to use Stansted Airport as it causes too much disruption at Heathrow, although for Biden’s visit last year he used RAF Mildenhall in the Suffolk.
According to Politico, a London-based foreign ambassador sent a WhatsApp message early Sunday that read, “Can you imagine Joe Biden on the bus?
Timothy Miller, security specialist and former US Secret Service agent, was even more blunt. “The bottom line is that the President of the United States would never fly a commercial plane and/or ride a bus,” he said.
“There is a long history where his security has been fully taken care of by the host countries during these types of events. The secret services have no possibility of compromising his security even for an event like this.
Those joining Biden in confirming their attendance at the funeral include the Australian Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, the New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, and their canadian counterpart, Justin Trudeau.
Monday, the Irish The Taoiseach, Micheál Martin, said he would be present at the funeral, adding that he and the country’s President, Michael D Higgins, would also attend a memorial service for the Queen in Belfast on Tuesday.
King Felipe and Queen Letizia of Spain will attend the funeral, as will Felipe’s mother, Sofía, and his father, King Juan Carlos, who abdicated in 2014.
Emperor Naruhito of Japan could attend, just like Turkeyof the President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
ChinaJapan’s President Xi Jinping is not expected to attend, while the Russian The government said in a statement that Vladimir Putin’s presence at the funeral was “not envisaged”.
BrazilFar-right President Jair Bolsonaro has confirmed he will attend the funeral – a rare foreign outing for a president whose undemocratic behavior and destruction of the Amazon has made him an international pariah.
Reports in the Brazilian press suggest Bolsonaro sees the funeral as a chance to project international respectability and prestige ahead of the country’s October 2 presidential election, which polls indicate he is likely to lose.
“Sources close to the president say [the decision to attend] was swayed by the opportunity to record footage for his campaign propaganda,” conservative Estado de São Paulo reported on Monday.
A presidential aide told O Globo newspaper that Bolsonaro saw the funeral as a chance to lash out at his leftist rival, former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who would not attend.
“The circumstances are very favourable: [Bolsonaro] will appear as a head of state, surrounded by heads of state, while Lula will be left out,” the aide said. “It will reinforce the president’s image as a leader.”