Chinese delegation banned from seeing Queen Elizabeth's coffin in parliament
The United Kingdom has refused permission for a Chinese government delegation to attend Queen Elizabeth's lying-in-state, causing a new diplomatic rift with Beijing. The House of Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle took the decision owing to Chinese sanctions against five British members of Parliament and two peers for accusing Beijing of mistreating its Uighur Muslim minority in Xinjiang, according to the BBC.
Why does this story matter?
- Queen Elizabeth II, the longest-serving British monarch, died on September 8 after reigning for seven decades.
- The Queen was apparently on a summer vacation in Scotland since July and had been having difficulty walking and standing since October of last year.
- On Sunday, India observed a one-day state mourning as a mark of respect for the Queen as flags were flown at half-mast.
What did the official say?
Officials told BBC that representatives of China will attend the funeral but will not be permitted into the Parliament building to view the coffin. They further claimed that the move is expected to worsen already strained UK-China ties. Notably, Westminster Hall is controlled by the Speakers of the House of Commons and the House of Lords because it is part of the legislative estate.
Decision comes following objection by sanctioned MPs
The development comes after sanctioned MPs objected to the Chinese President even attending the funeral. According to reports, the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO) of the UK has invited Chinese President Xi Jinping to the funeral as a head of the state. However, the Chinese delegation will be led by Vice President Wang Qishan, they claimed.
China had sanctioned nine persons, four organizations in UK
Last year, China sanctioned nine individuals and four organizations in the UK in response to Britain's sanctions on Chinese officials for alleged human rights abuses in its Xinjiang province. The sanctioned MPs had sent a letter to the Parliament Speakers earlier this week to seek assurances that representatives from Beijing would not be allowed onto the parliamentary estate.
Queen's coffin reached London on Wednesday
The Queen's body was brought to London from Balmoral in Scotland on Wednesday. The coffin is draped in the Royal Standard and is raised on a catafalque. The British Film Institute has placed an outdoor screen showing archived footage of the Queen and her reign.
The lying-in-state expected to have footfall of 7.5 lakh people
The Westminster Hall remained open 24 hours a day till Monday morning throughout the Queen's lying-in-state, which was made public on Wednesday. Officials anticipate 30 hour long queues and 7.5 lakh visitors to pay their respects to the Queen. The Yeoman Warders of the Tower of London, the Household Division, or the Sovereign's Bodyguard are in charge of protecting the coffin.