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Diplomatic headache for Queen’s funeral planners

The diplomatic headache of planning the Queen’s funeral: The challenge of arranging seating for dignitaries from Iran, Israel, India and Pakistan and the two Koreas

  • Seating plans could not begin to be worked out until Thursday when RSVPs closed
  • But it may be crucial to avoid inflaming existing tensions between the countries
  • A flashpoint for planners could be Pakistan and India’s decades-long rivalry
  • And Saudi Arabia and Qatar are locked in a battle for influence in the Middle East
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Accommodating more than 500 foreign dignitaries at today’s funeral without causing a diplomatic row may be one of the biggest challenges for officials.

With many world leaders invited to Westminster Abbey, the seating plan – which could not begin to be worked out until Thursday when RSVPs closed – could be crucial to avoid inflaming existing tensions between certain nations.

Careful consideration will be given to the placement of South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol and the North Korean ambassador.

Accommodating more than 500 foreign dignitaries at today's funeral without causing a diplomatic row may be one of the biggest challenges for officials
Accommodating more than 500 foreign dignitaries at today's funeral without causing a diplomatic row may be one of the biggest challenges for officials

Accommodating more than 500 foreign dignitaries at today’s funeral without causing a diplomatic row may be one of the biggest challenges for officials

Also attending are the Iranian ambassador and Isaac Herzog, the president of Israel. Herzog recently suggested that Iran is behind global ‘dark forces of hate’.

Another flashpoint for planners could be Pakistan and India’s decades-long rivalry.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif and India’s President Droupadi Murmu will attend.

There are also tensions between Greece and Turkey over recent clashes in the Aegean Sea.

And Saudi Arabia and Qatar are locked in a battle for influence in the Middle East.

With many world leaders invited to Westminster Abbey, the seating plan, which could only begin to be drawn up on Thursday when RSVPs close, could be crucial to avoid inflaming existing tensions between certain nations
With many world leaders invited to Westminster Abbey, the seating plan, which could only begin to be drawn up on Thursday when RSVPs close, could be crucial to avoid inflaming existing tensions between certain nations

With many world leaders invited to Westminster Abbey, the seating plan – which could only begin to be drawn up on Thursday when RSVPs closed – could be crucial to avoid inflaming existing tensions between certain nations

Such logistical nightmares are not uncommon when nations host important events with multiple representatives attending.

Jeremy Bernard, who served as former President Barack Obama’s social affairs secretary, ensured that each G7 leader’s cabin was of the same standard during a retreat at Camp David.

He told Sunday Times: ‘The seats are always a challenge.

‘You have to make sure that no one feels more welcome than others. It must not appear that there is any favoritism.’

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