Foreign leaders and dignitaries traveling to London for Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral were flown to Westminster Abbey for services on Monday, but the head of state was conspicuously absent from the bus tour: Joe Biden.
Accompanied by First Lady Jill Biden, the US President landed on Air Force One at London’s Stansted Airport on Saturday evening.
On Monday, his large entourage entered Westminster Abbey for a state funeral and people lined the streets in a procession. Meanwhile, other world leaders went there on buses organized by the British government.
The Queen’s funeral was a major security and operational liability that cost the British taxpayer a significant amount of money.
Transport requests for foreign leaders sparked a bit of controversy when Politico reported last week that the government had banned world leaders from traveling to the UK on private jets and bringing private vehicles for service. Instead, they were asked to take commercial flights and buses.
A spokeswoman for Prime Minister Liz Truss later told Politico that these were only instructions and not requests for heads of state.
Biden rejected the policy as many expected. Irish Prime Minister Michael Martin, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, King Abdullah II of Jordan, Tanzanian President Samiya Solo Hassan, Kenyan President William and other world leaders voted in favor of the bus. Roto, Ajang Mustafa Billah Shah of Malaysia, President of Singapore Halima Yacoub, Emperor Naruhito of Japan, Andrzej Duda of Poland and President Frank-Walter Steinmeier of Germany.
In an interview with the BBC on Sunday, New Zealand Prime Minister Ardern refused to allow dignitaries to board the bus.
“I don’t think the bus makes a fuss. In New Zealand, I often take our minister on the bus with me.” “Seems reasonable.”