British coronations are rare and sought after events, particularly for world leaders and their retinues. The last coronation took place seven decades ago, and leaders from around the world are flying in to be a part of this year’s event. For Britain, the coronation provides an opportunity to showcase its best assets and exert as much soft power as possible at the start of the Carolean era.
At least four kings and queens, along with a handful of princes and princesses, will be in attendance at the coronation, with a total of 90 heads of state expected. Notably, US President Joe Biden will not be attending, but instead will be represented by his wife, the first lady. However, most presidents and prime ministers will be present. The Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) has confirmed that 450 foreign dignitaries will be in attendance at Westminster Abbey, representing 200 nations, realms, and Commonwealth countries.
Seating Arrangements and Protocol
Seating arrangements will be strictly adhered to in order to avoid causing offense. The front rows will be reserved for foreign royals and representatives of the realms, followed by representatives of overseas territories, and then representatives from other Commonwealth nations with their own heads of state. Other guests will be seated in strict alphabetical order. In total, the FCDO will be hosting 220 foreign delegations over the course of the weekend.
Controversy Surrounding China’s Attendance
China has been invited to the coronation, but the man Beijing is sending, Han Zheng, is widely regarded as the oppressor of Hong Kong. Han Zheng is the Chinese official who played a significant role in tearing up the British-Chinese agreement over the former colony, ordering a brutal crackdown on protests, and sending hundreds to jail. Some are outraged that Han Zheng has been invited to the coronation, while other partners with whom the UK has an excellent relationship, such as Taiwan, have been excluded.
Despite the controversy, Britain’s Foreign Secretary James Cleverly plans to meet with Han Zheng ahead of the coronation to discuss points of criticism, including China’s treatment of the Uyghur minority in Xinjiang province and failure to abide by commitments in Hong Kong. However, former Hong Kong governor Chris Patten believes that Han’s attendance shows that China does not care about the UK.
In conclusion, the British Coronation is a rare and highly anticipated event for world leaders. It provides an opportunity for Britain to showcase its soft power and for foreign dignitaries to come together and celebrate the start of a new era. However, controversy surrounding China’s attendance has caused outrage among some, highlighting tensions between the UK and China.
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