Queen Elizabeth II: List of leaders to attend state funeral speaks volumes about her global popularity and UK's standing in the world – Scotsman comment

On Monday next week, national leaders from the four corners of the planet will assemble to mark the passing of one woman: Queen Elizabeth II.

US President Joe Biden was among the first to say he would attend her state funeral, and the names of others came thick and fast.

New Zealand's Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, and the Maori’s King Tūheitia will make a journey of nearly 24 hours to be there, while Japan’s Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako will also attend, despite a cultural convention that emperors do not go to funerals.

The multiple feats of logistics required to assemble so many world leaders in one place at relatively short notice provides tangible evidence of the profound effect that Queen Elizabeth had beyond our shores.


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Some in the UK are perhaps unaware of just how highly regarded the woman often known overseas as “the Queen” – with no need to specify of which country – truly was in countries far and wide.

It is also a sign of the UK’s standing among the global community, a position achieved by successive governments which have promoted human rights, the rule of law and other democratic values, and taken a lead on major issues like climate change and international development.

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But while the list of people who will be there speaks volumes, so does the much shorter list of countries which will not.


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A portrait of the late Queen Elizabeth II is displayed at the Cazalys Stadium in Cairns, New Zealand, ahead of an international cricket match against Australia (Picture: Saeed Khan/AFP via Getty Images)

The authoritarian regimes of Russia, Syria, Afghanistan, Belarus, Myanmar and Venezuela are all not welcome to mourn the passing of Her Majesty. But then, given the blood on the hands of brutal tyrants like Vladimir Putin and Bashar Assad, how could they be? These people are not true leaders of their countries but gangsters who have usurped power and cling to it through violent means.

King Charles III has a tough act to follow, given his mother was perhaps the most famous woman in the world. But then, so does the UK, following its recent rebirth outside the European Union.

Whether Britain can retain its current standing on the world stage is largely down to our elected leaders. So, as they survey the great assembly of world leaders solemnly paying their respects to Queen Elizabeth, they should contemplate the importance of maintaining strong alliances with other liberal democracies and being a good global citizen.


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