First Lady Olena Zelenska arrives at Queen’s funeral as her husband remains in Ukraine

Ukraine’s time to support Britain: First Lady Olena Zelenska arrives at Queen’s funeral after meeting Princess of Wales last night – as her husband remains to oversee UK-backed war efforts

  • Olena Zelenska has arrived at Westminster Abbey to attend the Queen’s funeral
  • First Lady is representing her husband, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky
  • Zelenska attended a Buckingham Palace reception last night for world leaders
  • Earlier on Sunday she went to Westminster Hall to see the Queen lying in state
  • Zelensky meanwhile remains in Ukraine to lead the war effort against Russia
  • The Queen’s funeral: All the latest Royal Family news and coverage

The wife of Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has arrived at Westminster Abbey to attend the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II.

Olena Zelenska is representing Ukraine at the ceremonies on behalf of her husband as he continues to lead his nation in its battle against Russian invaders.

Clad in all black mourning attire, Zelenska and a handful of Ukrainian delegates filed into the grand 753-year-old Abbey where senior members of The Firm, key figures from British politics and 1,000 VIPs from around the world will pay their final respects during the ceremony.

The Ukrainian First Lady is seated next to the aisle in the gothic building, four rows behind French President Emmanuel Macron, who attends the funeral with his wife Brigitte. 

Zelenska was one of hundreds of world leaders and foreign delegates who attended the ‘reception of the century’ hosted by new king Charles last night at Buckingham Palace.

Speaking to BBC yesterday, Zelenska said she was paying respects on behalf of all Ukrainians.

‘They know the Queen shared the values that Ukraine stands for today: freedom, the right to one’s own home, language, culture and country,’ she said. 

‘We have repeatedly heard words of support from her. It is very important for us to know that such a world leader of an epoch, a leader with an impeccable reputation and morals, was with us.’

First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska (right) is pictured sitting alongside Ukrainian delegates in Westminster Abbey, seated four rows behind French President Emmanuel Macron (bottom left)

First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska (right) is pictured sitting alongside Ukrainian delegates in Westminster Abbey, seated four rows behind French President Emmanuel Macron (bottom left)

Ms Zelenska was spotted yesterday entering Westminster Hall, where the late monarch is currently lying in state

Ms Zelenska was spotted yesterday entering Westminster Hall, where the late monarch is currently lying in state

King Charles greets foreign dignitaries including First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska (centre)

King Charles greets foreign dignitaries including First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska (centre)

She appeared alongside other members of the Ukrainian delegation to the UK and bowed her head as she surveyed the Queen lying-in-state

She appeared alongside other members of the Ukrainian delegation to the UK and bowed her head as she surveyed the Queen lying-in-state

First Lady Olena Zelenska (pictured with members of the Ukrainian delegation, right) appeared pensive as she attended the lying in state of Her Majesty at Westminster Hall

First Lady Olena Zelenska (pictured with members of the Ukrainian delegation, right) appeared pensive as she attended the lying in state of Her Majesty at Westminster Hall

Earlier on Sunday the First Lady also paid her respects to Her Majesty during a visit to see her lying in state at Westminster hall with a small contingent of Ukrainian delegates.

Dressed in all black, she wore a gold pin inspired by a rushnyk, a piece of fabric embroidered with traditional Ukrainian symbols, on her blazer. 

As she contemplated the solemn occasion, her expression was sombre and she bowed her head in respect, staying in the hall for several minutes as members of the British public filed past below. 

Her arrival in the UK had been hotly anticipated after it was confirmed that her husband Volodymyr would be remaining at home to lead the war effort. 

After viewing the Queen’s casket at Westminster Hall, Ms Zelenska had an audience with the Princess of Wales at Buckingham Palace ahead of the evening reception.

The pair, both wearing long black dresses, sat either side of a fireplace on gingham armchairs with pink orchids on display in the background. 

Dressed in all black, she wore a gold pin inspired by a rushnyk, a piece of fabric embroidered with traditional Ukrainian symbols, on her blazer

Dressed in all black, she wore a gold pin inspired by a rushnyk, a piece of fabric embroidered with traditional Ukrainian symbols, on her blazer

The wife of Ukraine's President Zelensky, Olena Zelenska, bows her head as she pays tribute to the late Queen Elizabeth II

The wife of Ukraine’s President Zelensky, Olena Zelenska, bows her head as she pays tribute to the late Queen Elizabeth II

Ms Zelenska was seen on Sunday entering Westminster Hall, where the late monarch was lying in state

Ms Zelenska was seen on Sunday entering Westminster Hall, where the late monarch was lying in state

The wife of Ukraine's President Zelensky, Olena Zelenska (R), is pictured speaking with the Princess of Wales yesterday at Buckingham Palace

The wife of Ukraine’s President Zelensky, Olena Zelenska (R), is pictured speaking with the Princess of Wales yesterday at Buckingham Palace

Kate spoke with Zelenska at the Palace ahead of the evening reception (pictured L-R: Princess of Wales, First Lady of Ukraine)

Kate spoke with Zelenska at the Palace ahead of the evening reception (pictured L-R: Princess of Wales, First Lady of Ukraine)

The First Lady (left) is in the UK representing her husband President Zelensky (right), who is remaining at home to lead the war effort

The First Lady (left) is in the UK representing her husband President Zelensky (right), who is remaining at home to lead the war effort

A host of foreign dignitaries entered Westminster Hall yesterday to pay respects, including French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte, and US president Joe Biden and his wife Jill, ahead of the evening reception.  

Dubbed ‘the reception of the century’, the Buckingham Palace event was attended by 1,000 VIPs.

Many international dignitaries attended the mammoth occasion, including US President Joe Biden, New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern, Canadian premier Justin Trudeau and many senior members of The Firm.

Other guests included President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins, Irish Taoiseach Micheal Martin, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed and Colombia’s First Lady Veronica Alcocer Gargia and Foreign Minister Alvaro Leyva. 

Foreign royals also took part in the event, with King Felipe and Queen Letizia of Spain, and King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden on the guest list among others.

King Felipe and Queen Letizia of Spain looked dignified as they viewed the Queen's coffin lying-in-state on Sunday evening

King Felipe and Queen Letizia of Spain looked dignified as they viewed the Queen’s coffin lying-in-state on Sunday evening

King Phillipe and Queen Mathilde of Belgiun look solemn as they pay their respects to Her late Majesty as she lies in state at WEstminster Hall

King Phillipe and Queen Mathilde of Belgiun look solemn as they pay their respects to Her late Majesty as she lies in state at WEstminster Hall

King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden also arrived to pay their respects at Westminster Hall ahead of the funeral  

Wueen Silvia of Sweden arrived at Buckingham Palace with King Carl XVI Gustav to be hosted by King Charles III, after paying their respects to Her late Majesty in Westminster Hall earlier today

Wueen Silvia of Sweden arrived at Buckingham Palace with King Carl XVI Gustav to be hosted by King Charles III, after paying their respects to Her late Majesty in Westminster Hall earlier today

The royal couple were among the first monarchs to view the monarch lying-in-state at Westminster Hall.

Putin, who has previously had an audience with the Queen, has not been invited, despite offering his condolences to the Royal Family last week. 

However, the guest list did feature a string of controversial strongmen, including Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who was filmed today giving a thunderous speech from the windows of the Brazilian Embassy in London to a cheering crowd waving the national flag. 

China vice-president, Wang Qishan, will attend the funeral but was barred by parliamentary leaders from the lying-in-state.

Due to strained ties, the UK opted to invite ambassadors, not heads of state, from Iran, Nicaragua and North Korea. Meanwhile, Russia and Belarus are among a small group of nations excluded altogether following Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

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