Queen Elizabeth II death: Liz Truss set to meet world leaders ahead of Monday’s funeral

Liz Truss is primed to hold the first of her confirmed head-to-heads with world leaders as they make the trip to the UK for the Queen’s funeral.

The Prime Minister will speak with her counterparts from New Zealand and Australia on Saturday, with the conversations framed by No 10 as chats rather than formal bilateral meetings.

Downing Street suggested they would be an opportunity for condolences over the Queen’s death, with politics likely to come up.

The first of the weekend’s meetings will be based at the Government’s Chevening country residence, rather than Chequers, which is said to be undergoing routine maintenance work after Boris Johnson’s exit.

Prime Minister Liz Truss attends a Service of Prayer and Reflection for the Life of The Queen at Llandaff Cathedral in Wales. Picture: Matthew Horwood/Getty Images

Ms Truss will see New Zealand’s premier Jacinda Ardern and Australian leader Anthony Albanese on Saturday.

Ms Ardern has said the Queen’s death and new King will be the “focus of conversation”, with the pair also likely to discuss Ukraine and the UK’s free trade agreement with New Zealand.

But all will be “within the context of the week of mourning that the UK is currently in”.

The conversation between Ms Truss and Mr Albanese may also touch on trade, with the countries last year signing a deal estimated by the Government to be worth £2.3 billion to the UK economy.

When his UK counterpart won the Tory leadership contest earlier this month, the Australian PM tweeted: “I look forward to a continued constructive relationship and friendship between our nations and people.”

Ms Truss also has a packed diary on Sunday, with plans to meet US president Joe Biden, Irish Taoiseach Micheal Martin, Canadian premier Justin Trudeau and Polish leader Andrzej Duda in Downing Street.

Ms Truss previously met Mr Biden as foreign secretary, but this will be their first in-person conversation since she became Prime Minister.

It will take place against a backdrop of disputes over the Northern Ireland Protocol and difficulties working towards a trade deal with the White House.

The controversial post-Brexit treaty is also likely to come up when she speaks to Mr Martin, amid strained relations between the two countries over the trading arrangements.

Meanwhile, the Chinese foreign ministry has confirmed the country’s vice-president Wang Qishan will attend the state funeral on Monday, rather than leader Xi Jinping.

He is not expected to be among those to meet Ms Truss during the visit.

Mr Wang, who is close to Mr Xi, was a member of the ruling Communist Party’s all-powerful, seven-member Politburo Standing Committee from 2012 to 2017.

During those years, he led a crackdown on corruption that has been one of Mr Xi’s signature initiatives as China’s leader.

Mr Wang was named to the largely ceremonial post of vice-president in 2018 and often attends events on Mr Xi’s behalf.

A group of British MPs sanctioned by China have expressed concern the Chinese government has been invited to the funeral.

They told the BBC the invitation should be rescinded because of human rights abuses in the treatment of the Uighur ethnic group in China’s far-western region of Xinjiang.

Meanwhile, Japanese Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako are travelling to Britain to pay their respects to the late Elizabeth II, and to the wider royal family who are considered as a model for Japan’s monarchy in modern history.

The decision for the emperor and empress to attend the queen’s funeral underlines the importance and the deep bond between the royal families.

Traditionally, a Japanese emperor stays away from funerals except for those of their own parents because of a cultural belief based in the Shinto religion that considers death impure.

Former Emperor Akihito, as crown prince, attended the Queen’s 1953 coronation and her Diamond Jubilee in 2012. The Queen visited Japan in 1975.

Naruhito and Masako’s trip to Britain is their first as the Emperor and Empress.

The Queen’s invitation for them to visit following Naruhito’s 2019 ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne had to be postponed due to the pandemic.


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