More than 300 additional staff were seconded to the department, with the combination of security, protocol and logistics described as the most comprehensive short-term planning it had faced since Winston Churchill’s state funeral in 1965.
Aside from the practicalities of getting the foreign royals, prime ministers, presidents and governors-general to the capital, the government also had to pull off the diplomatic masterpiece of keeping certain leaders at an appropriate distance.
Ambassadors from North Korea, Nicaragua and Iran were invited, as were South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol and Israel’s President Isaac Herzog, who recently suggested that Iran is leading the global “dark forces of hatred.”
Current heads of state invited to the funeral were told they could bring one guest.
Queen Margrethe of Denmark, who ascended to the throne after the death of her father, King Frederick IX, on January 14, 1972, attended the event with her son, Crown Prince Frederik.
The couple were given front row seats in the abbey, directly opposite the king and queen consort.
Australian-born Princess Mary, who married Prince Frederik in 2004, had met the late Queen several times.
Questions about guests from other royal families
A Foreign Office source suggested that in the chaos of the moment, a mistake was made in suggesting that Queen Margrethe’s guest had also been invited to bring a guest.
However, questions remain as to why other royal families, including the Dutch, Spaniards and Jordanians, each had at least three guests.
Denmark’s royal family told local news channel BT: “A deplorable error has crept into the invitation of the British Foreign Office protocol.
“So it is only the Queen and the Crown Prince who, from the Danish side, will participate in Queen Elizabeth II’s state funeral on Monday.”