19 September was a day that the British and people worldwide will certainly remember. The entire day was packed with events surrounding the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II. Since 14 September, millions of people had been queuing on the streets of London to see the late monarch’s coffin. Many spent entire nights in the cold or stood in the rain for hours to pay their respects. The queue outside Westminster Hall, where the Queen was lying in state, was closed on Sunday night. The opening of the hall on Monday signalled the beginning of the U.K.’s first state funeral since the one held in 1965 for Winston Churchill, the first of 15 prime ministers to serve during Queen Elizabeth’s reign. The queen appointed Liz Truss as her final prime minister two days before she passed away on 8 September at her Balmoral summer residence.
The night before the funeral, King Charles III sent out a note of gratitude to the people of the UK and the rest of the world, expressing how he and his wife Camilla, the queen consort, had been ‘touched beyond measure’ by the massive turnout of mourners.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, whose invitation prompted criticism from human rights organisations due to the most likely state-sponsored murder of writer Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018, was one absentee from Monday’s funeral. Prince Turki bin Mohammed, another royal, represented Saudi Arabia. Pope Francis did not attend in person either, with the Vatican sending a senior official as a representative. Vladimir Putin also stayed away, while the leaders of Belarus and Myanmar were not invited.
Commonwealth prime ministers, including Anthony Albanese of Australia, Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand, and Justin Trudeau of Canada were there, and so were Europe’s royalty, EU member states leaders, President of the Commission Ursula von der Leyen, as well as US President Joe Biden. According to a statement from Buckingham Palace, 200 people who were honoured on the queen’s honours list this year, including those who made ‘exceptional contributions’ to the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic and community volunteers, also joined the mourners.
The Hungarian head of state, President Katalin Novák, accompanied by her husband, also attended the funeral. On Saturday she said on her social media that even though she had never met the Queen in person, she always admired her courage, wisdom and service to her nation. Yesterday she said on Twitter: ‘We accompanied Queen Elizabeth II on her final journey. The world is mourning a leader who dedicated her whole life to the service of her nation. We’ve lost a leader for whom her Christian faith was a day-to-day reality. We strive to remain worthy of her legacy. God rest her soul!’
Since taking office on 10 May this year, Ms. Novák has been very active on the international scene, making Hungary more visible than ever before. Thus, her support has quickly started to grow, not only in her country, but internationally as well. Her visits to neighbouring countries, her talks held with leaders around the world garnered attention and support from many. On 25 August she visited Pope Francis, and thw two talked about the successes of the Hungarian family policies, and about the fact that the world needs more female politicians like President Novák.
Her travelling to London for the funeral was another occasion where, representing her nation, the President continued to establish herself as a prominent figure in international politics.