Foreign leaders take VIP buses from Chelsea after the Queen's funeral

Heads of state and dignitaries at the State Funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, held at Westminster Abbey Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

World leaders gathered together on royal shuttle buses to and from the Queen’s funeral on Monday in a carefully planned travel operation that saw much of Chelsea locked down.

Heads of state, prime ministers and ambassadors from across the world travelled to the Royal Hospital Chelsea, before boarding coaches for the two-mile journey to the 11am service at Westminster Abbey.

African leaders were among the first presidents and prime ministers to arrive, with Sudan’s military leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan crossing the police cordon that surrounded the hospital, home of the Chelsea Pensioners, at around 7:30am.

He was followed by delegations from Malawi and Nigeria.

More presidents and prime ministers followed in a succession of high performance vehicles, including Irish Taoiseach Micheal Martin and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

The Dean of Westminster David Hoyle greets US President Joe Biden and Jill Biden ahead of the funeral Credit: Andrew Milligan/PA

The German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier rode in a sleek, dark BMW.

Soon after, Italian president Sergio Mattarella arrived in his embassy’s Maserati, drawing appreciative comments on Twitter from his compatriots.

Next came royalty, King Philippe of Belgium arriving in a ceremonial uniform with gold collar while King Felipe and Queen Letizia of Spain waved to the small crowd.

Not everything ran smoothly. The car carrying the Emir of Qatar, the only vehicle flying its national flag from its bonnet, was forced to wait in front of television cameras for 20 minutes at the checkpoint while police officers spoke back and forth on their radios. Eventually, it was allowed to enter.

International heads of state and dignitaries arrive at the State Funeral of the Queen at Westminster Abbey Credit: James Manning/PA

Last to arrive was Chinese vice-president Wang Qishan, sweeping through the checkpoint at speed in a motorcade several vehicles long.

Unlike his fellow dignitaries, Mr Wang did not even have to pause for entry.

One member of the public on a zebra crossing just outside the cordon became briefly stranded in the middle of the road but was waved through by an officer seconds before the Chinese diplomatic convoy arrived.

From the Royal Hospital, a succession of coaches took the foreign dignitaries along the banks of the Thames to Westminster Abbey and the Queen’s funeral.

US President Joe Biden travelled separately in an armoured vehicle, nicknamed The Beast, which was held up in traffic on the way to the Abbey but arrived shortly after 10am.

The close protection operation around the Queen’s funeral was the biggest ever run by the Metropolitan Police as hundreds of foreign dignitaries attended the funeral.

The transport arrangement is understood to have been made due to a road capacity issue around Westminster.

Some commentators on Twitter likened the world leaders’ coaches to school buses.


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