Government guidance sets out strict rules urging international royalty and presidents to travel by commercial flights, cannot transfer by helicopter, and says they will not be able to travel by private car to the service.
Foreign heads of state arriving for the Queen’s funeral must travel by bus en masse to Westminster Abbey, rather than using private cars, according to newly issued government guidance.
The documents, first published by Politico, set out strict rules for the dozens of international presidents, kings, queens and prime ministers expected to attend the funeral, urging them to travel by commercial flights to avoid swamping London’s airports.
The instructions lay bare the logistical challenge of accommodating the sheer number of overseas dignitaries who will be arriving in London over next weekend.
The government document says that it “regrets that, because of limited space at the state funeral service and associated events, no other members of the principal guest’s family, staff or entourage may be admitted”.
The guidance adds: “The royal funeral unit would therefore be grateful if accompanying delegations can be kept as small as possible. This will also reduce disruption and transit time at airports. Where possible, overseas representatives should plan to arrive in the UK at least one day before the state funeral or the first event, which they are attending.”
It also says Heathrow will not be available for private flight arrangements or aircraft parking and says heads of state should use other London airports if they cannot fly commercially. It says the government will decline the use of helicopter transport because of the sheer volume of guests.
London’s streets are unable to cope with the volume of private cars of foreign leaders expecting to attend the funeral. Instead, they will be taken to a separate site in London where the government will “provide coach transport from a central assembly point … Because of traffic restrictions, it will not be possible for guests to travel to such events in their own vehicles.” Surely it's only a matter of time before Joe Biden gets permission to use his Beast?
Whilst these instructions are clearly of a practical, logistical nature, the happy by-product means that the Queen's funeral will be far greener than might otherwise have been. Something, no doubt that she - and certainly her eldest son - would most heartily endorse.