By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
LONDON (Worthy News) – Controversial world leaders were among those invited to participate in Monday’s state funeral for Queen Elizabeth II despite concerns about their human rights record.
Ahead of the funeral, Britain observed a national minute’s silence to allow people to “reflect on the life and legacy” of the Queen.
It came as thousands paid their respect to the Queen as they visited her coffin in Westminster Hall, part of the complex of buildings where Parliament sits.
The mourners took their last chance to join the queue to say farewells to the late Queen before the line closed early Monday.
Many mourners passed the Queen’s eight grandchildren when they held a 15-minute vigil with their heads bowed around her coffin, with Prince Harry wearing a military uniform at the King’s request.
Prince William, who was also in military attire, was at the head of the coffin as the Duke of Sussex stood at the foot.
It was the first time Harry, who served on the front line during two tours of duty in Afghanistan, was wearing a military uniform while publicly mourning his grandmother.
The Duke of Sussex lost the automatic right to do so when he stepped back as a working royal in 2020. However, Buckingham Palace confirmed Prince Harry would wear a military uniform for the vigil at the “King’s request.”
Later several leaders were also seen in London’s Westminster Hall and signing condolence books at Lancaster House.
Among them were US President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden. Biden said the Queen was “the same in person as her image — decent, honorable and all about service.”
Earlier, the First Lady of Ukraine, Olena Zelenska, was amongst other dignitaries seen paying their respects.
Yet the peaceful mourning was overshadowed by tensions with rights activists expressing concerns about Britain’s invitation to Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince and de facto ruler, Mohammed Bin Salman.
A declassified Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) report concluded that the crown prince had authorized the murder and dismemberment of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in 2018.
The Saudi crown prince and his government denied this, but he has been seen as a pariah in the West and has not been to Britain until now.
Chinese leaders were also invited to attend the Queen’s lying-in-state, despite some legislators saying they were assured this week by the Commons Speaker that a Chinese delegation would not be welcome in Westminster Hall.
China’s President Xi Jinping is on the guest list for the funeral ceremony but is not thought likely to attend.
A Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman said on Friday that no decision had been made on whether they would send a delegation, although press reports suggested China’s vice president would attend.
China’s ambassador to Britain was barred from the British Parliament from seeing the coffin due to Chinese sanctions on several legislators.
Beijing and London have had tensions over human rights and China’s pressure on Taiwan, which it wants to annex if needed by force.
Though the Chinese ambassador wasn’t allowed to enter the British Parliament, the ban would not be extended to other Chinese officials, British officials said.
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