Foreign Office officials ‘ditched buses for dignitaries’ at the King’s coronation after backlash at the Queen’s funeral: ‘Macron was peeved but some of the Gulf leaders really were furious’

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Written By Maya Cantina

Given the sheer number of world leaders attending the Queen’s funeral, it was clear they could not all expect to arrive at and leave the service at Westminster Abbey in their own cars. 

As a member of the Lord Chamberlain’s Office explained, ‘it would have taken hours each way’.

Besides, a queue of hundreds of cars and outriders would hardly reflect well on the King’s oft-quoted views on sustainability and climate change. So the leaders would all go by bus. 

‘Most were happy with this, especially since the European monarchs do this sort of thing all the time,’ says one senior Foreign Office official.

‘However, some, including the team around President Macron of France, did not like it at all.

President Macron of France alongside his wife, Brigitte Macron, at the Queen’s funeral on 19 September 2022

The heads of state arrive in buses as they meet with King Charles ahead of the Queen's funeral

The heads of state arrive in buses as they meet with King Charles ahead of the Queen’s funeral

French officials were especially miffed that an exception was made for US President Joe Biden

French officials were especially miffed that an exception was made for US President Joe Biden

President Macron's team, did not like the bus plan 'at all'

President Macron’s team, did not like the bus plan ‘at all’ 

‘They were worried how this would play to their home base, that people might mock them.’

French officials were especially miffed that an exception was made for US President Joe Biden, whose security team would not countenance him travelling in anything other than his bomb-proof limousine.

Foreign Office officials learned one important lesson from the Queen’s funeral. ‘Macron was peeved but some of the Gulf leaders really were furious,’ says one diplomatic source, ‘so we ditched [the buses] for the Coronation.’

It would not be eco-friendly but there would be no avoiding a cavalcade of limousines filling the streets around Westminster Abbey from first light.

© Robert Hardman, 2024

  • Adapted from Charles III New King. New Court. The Inside Story by Robert Hardman, published by Macmillan on January 18 at £22. To order a copy for £17.60 (offer valid until 29/02/2024; UK p&p free on orders over £25) go to mailshop. co.uk/books or call 020 3176 2937.

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