WORLD leaders began gathering in London today to pay their respects to the Queen ahead of her funeral next week.
New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern was the first to arrive at the global event on Monday, and hundreds more are expected over the weekend.
The New Zealand Prime Minister attended Her Majesty’s State Ceremony at Westminster Hall on Friday.
And Ms Ardern, who joined thousands of mourners, paid a touching tribute to the late monarch as she curtseyed at her coffin.
She is among 500 heads of state and dignitaries invited to Monday’s service and a VIP reception hosted by King Charles the previous day.
World leaders will arrive in London this weekend and pay their respects to Queen Elizabeth with visits to where she is staying at Westminster Hall.
More than 30 world leaders will attend Monday’s memorial service, including US President Joe Biden, France’s Emmanuel Macron, China’s Vice President Wang Qishan, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
While despot Vladimir Putin was not invited, Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelensky will be in attendance – along with dozens of world leaders and royal families from around the world.
A source said: “The presence of Olena Zelenska is another sign of global support for Ukraine while Russia is isolated.
“Britain is one of Ukraine’s most loyal allies. Your presence at the funeral is a sign of that friendship and mutual respect.”
Meanwhile, dozens of members of foreign royal families – including Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako of Japan, King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia of Spain, and King Philip and Queen Mathilde of Belgium – will be among the 2,000 mourners at Westminster Abbey.
NHS bigwigs, including Chief Executive Amanda Pritchard, have also been invited.
They will join nearly 200 key workers and volunteers on the Queen’s Birthday Honors Roll, including Ella Marks, 88, who attended George VI’s coronation. participated in 1937.
And on the evening before the funeral, King Charles III. and his wife Camilla host foreign VIPs at a reception at Buckingham Palace.
It will be the largest gathering of world leaders in modern history and the first state occasion at the palace, which is undergoing a £360million refurbishment since President Donald Trump’s visit more than three years ago.
All dignitaries are taken to the funeral by bus.
They were ordered to gather at the Royal Hospital Chelsea and to travel under “collective arrangements,” a palace source said.
More details on the plans were released yesterday – with the somber occasion starting at 11am at Westminster Abbey.
The Queen’s gun carriage is pulled by 138 marines as it is transported from New Palace Yard via Parliament Square, the Broad Sanctuary and the Sanctuary to Westminster Abbey.
King Charles and members of the Royal Family including Prince Edward, Prince Andrew, Princess Anne, Prince William and Prince Harry will follow on foot.
The Queen’s final resting place will be the King George VI Memorial Chapel, where her mother and father were buried along with the ashes of her sister Princess Margaret.
Prince Philip’s coffin is brought from the royal vault to the memorial chapel to join his beloved wife of 73 years.
https://www.the-sun.com/news/6240857/first-leader-arrive-queen-funeral-jacinda-ardern/ The first leader to arrive for the Queen’s funeral is New Zealander Jacinda Ardern, who rallies as the world’s most powerful to pay their respects