The authoritarian anti-vaxxer and the stoning apologist who were invited to watch Queen’s funeral: Brazil’s Bolsonaro and Saudi Arabian prince are among controversial mourners
The far-right ruler joins a number of figures who preside over countries with dubious human rights records in London today, but were welcomed among the 2,000 mourners to honour the late monarch.
While a number of countries were excluded from the service due to strained diplomatic relations with the UK, representatives from Saudi Arabia, China, Brunei, Bahrain and Kuwait were spotted in the congregation.
Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman, China’s Xi Jinping and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan were invited but each decided to send dignitaries on their behalf, amid a potential backlash at their attendance.
Prince Turki bin Mohammed al Saud is instead representing Saudi Arabia, a country which advocates stoning and oversaw the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, after bin Salman delegated his invitation.
Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro and his wife Michelle arrive at Westminster Abbey in London today
Wang Qishan, China’s vice president arrives at Westminster Abbey in place of Xi Jinping today
Pictured third row, far left, Saudi Prince Turki bin Mohammed al Saud, who went in place of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman
A source said the change had been made by Saudi Arabia, Reuters reported.
This comes after Human Rights groups criticised the decision to invite the Crown Prince.
Hatice Cengiz, the fiancee of Mr Khashoggi, had also condemned the controversial invitation.
She said his presence at Her Majesty’s state funeral would ‘stain her memory’ – a sentiment echoed by activists who say allowing Saudi Arabia‘s de facto ruler, known as MBS, to attend is trying to ‘whitewash’ his human rights record.
China’s vice-premier Wang Qishan attended the funeral, hours after sparking fury among Conservative MPs for viewing the Queen lying in state.
The representative wore a Chinese branded face mask throughout the service.
Senior MPs had complained that Beijing was being ‘appeased’ by allowing him to visit and view the Queen lying in state despite a slew of British politicians being sanctioned for criticising human rights abuses.
However, Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle has denied being ‘leant’ on to allow the officials access.
Front row: King Abdullah II and Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan sit in front of Japanese Emperor Naruhito and wife Empress Masako, and the King of Malaysia Abdullah of Pahang
China’s vice-premier Wang Qishan attended the funeral, hours after sparking fury among Conservative MPs for viewing the Queen lying in state
There had initially been an expectation that Chinese officials would be barred from Westminster while seven UK MPs and peers remain sanctioned by Beijing.
The ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, who was embroiled in a bitter legal row in the UK with his ex-wife Princess Haya whom he was ordered to pay a record £500million settlement, was also present today.
The Sheikh was accused of abducting his two daughters Shamsa and Latifa, who was missing for months amid claims she was being held against her will.
His former brother-in-law, King Abdullah of Jordan, is also among the huge throng of mourners, leading to a potentially awkward reunion today.
Due to strained ties, the United Kingdom has opted to invite ambassadors, not heads of state, from several countries including Iran, Nicaragua and North Korea.
Russia and Belarus are among a small group of nations excluded altogether following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
Dozens of world leaders, dignitaries and diplomats take their seats inside Westminster Abbey as the Queen’s funeral begins
Russian President Vladimir Putin – under a travel ban to the UK due to sanctions – had already said he would not attend.
But not inviting any Russian representative to the queen’s funeral was ‘particularly blasphemous towards Elizabeth II’s memory’ and ‘deeply immoral’, the foreign ministry spokeswoman in Moscow said Thursday.
Russia and Belarus have embassies in London and their presidents sent King Charles III messages of condolences.
Other countries with no invitations are Myanmar, Syria, Venezuela and Taliban-ruled Afghanistan.
Yesterday, Bolsonaro, a prominent anti-vaxxer who has been accused of making homophobic and misogynist comments, was criticised by opposition leaders for turning his trip to London into an election campaign event.
His attendance comes just two weeks before the first-round election vote, in which he trails in opinion polls to his leftist rival, former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
In an address to his yellow-and-green-clad supporters from the balcony of the Brazilian embassy, far-right former army captain Bolsonaro touched briefly on the queen’s legacy, before accusing the opposition of trying to implant communism in South America’s largest country.
‘We’re a country that doesn’t want drug liberalization, that doesn’t want to talk about legalizing abortion and that doesn’t accept ‘gender ideology’,’ Bolsonaro said.
Reuters reported this week that Bolsonaro’s campaign hoped to use his trip to project the image of a respectable statesman with international support.
The president has been largely shunned by Western leaders for his lackluster stewardship of the Amazon rainforest and his proximity with Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin.