SUPPORT OUR JOURNALISM: Please consider donating to keep our website running and free for all - thank you!

Queen Elizabeth II

YEAR IN REVIEW: Royalty and world leaders who paid tribute to Queen Elizabeth II

The state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II was one of the largest gatherings of world leaders in modern times—certainly the largest since the coronavirus pandemic.

As we close the books on 2022 and a truly historic year for the British Royal Family, in this post, we’re looking into the world leaders who attended Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral and how they paid tribute to a revolutionary monarch.

As mourners passed by the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II, away from the crowds, world leaders stood for moments at a time to pay tribute to their contemporary. Queen Margrethe, the only reigning queen and Europe’s longest-reigning monarch after Elizabeth’s death, led the royal tributes.

A statement from King Willem-Alexander, Queen Maxima and Princess Beatrix read simply: “Steadfast and wise, she dedicated her long life to the service of the British people. We feel strongly connected to the United Kingdom and to the Royal Family and share in their grief.”

King Harald of Norway paid tribute to his late cousin, “Today I am grieving the loss of a dear family member and close friend,” and earned praise for standing and singing ‘God Save The King’ in honour of King Charles III.

Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, said: “She was one of my favourite people in the world, and I will miss her so,” as he and Governor-General Mary Simon led a Commonwealth delegation from Canada.

One of the most poignant state visits ever undertaken by Queen Elizabeth II was remembered by the country’s president when President Michael D. Higgins of Ireland praised the late Queen:  

“Together we celebrated the deeply personal interconnection between the Irish and British people, a connection embodied by the hundreds of thousands of families who have moved between our shores over the centuries.

As we know, the Queen often spoke of how much she enjoyed her own historic State Visit to Ireland in 2011, the first such visit by a British monarch since Irish independence, and during which she did so much through eloquent words and generous gestures to improve relations between our two islands.

Queen Elizabeth’s Visit was pivotal in laying a firm basis for an authentic and ethical understanding between our countries.  During those memorable few days eleven years ago, the Queen did not shy away from the shadows of the past. Her moving words and gestures of respect were deeply appreciated and admired by the people of Ireland and set out a new, forward looking relationship between our nations – one of respect, close partnership and sincere friendship.

As we offer our condolences to all our neighbours in the United Kingdom following the loss of a remarkable friend of Ireland, we remember the role Queen Elizabeth played in celebrating the warm and enduring friendship and her great impact on the bonds of mutual understanding, between our two peoples. She will be deeply missed.

“Ar dheis Dé go raibh a h-anam dílis.”

The First Lady of Ukraine left her embattled home country under tight security to attend Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral, calling it a great honour to represent Ukraine and to remember a woman who’d done so much to support the country. In a tweet, First Lady Olena Zelenska wrote: “Her attention to [Ukraine] was an important signal of support. She wished us better times and shared our desire for freedom. We will always remember it with deep gratitude.”

New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, said about Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral: “I will never in my lifetime ever witness anything like this. There were many moments where I felt that and was reminded of that. It was very humbling to be here on behalf of New Zealand. It’s very humbling to just see the outpouring of everyday people. That was the thing that stood out to me the most.”

Kenyan President William Ruto—president of the country where Princess Elizabeth became Queen Elizabeth II in 1952—praised her memory and “historic legacy” of steering “the institution’s evolution into a forum for effective multilateral engagement.” President Ruto was elected on 13 September, and his first official overseas engagement was to attend Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral.

American President Joe Biden said in a statement, “In a world of constant change, she was a steadying presence and a source of comfort and pride for generations of Britons, including many who have never known their country without her. An enduring admiration for Queen Elizabeth II united people across the Commonwealth. The seven decades of her history-making reign bore witness to an age of unprecedented human advancement and the forward march of human dignity.”

Biden would ultimately be Queen Elizabeth II’s last US President after meeting every single leader from Eisenhower onward, except Lyndon B. Johnson.

President Frank-Walter Steinmeier of Germany said: “[Queen Elizabeth II] enjoyed the utmost admiration and respect throughout the world – for her steadfastness weathering every storm, her natural authority, her immense experience and her exemplary devotion to duty. Her death marks the end of an era.”

King Felipe of Spain led the Spanish Royal Family in mourning—accompanied to the funeral by Queen Letizia, King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia—and sent a telegram to King Charles that read: “Your Majesty, dearest Charles, Deeply saddened by the sorrowful news of the passing away of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, your beloved Mother, I would like to offer Your Majesty and the British people, on my behalf and on behalf of the Spanish Government and people, our most heartfelt condolences.

“Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth has undoubtedly witnessed, written and shaped many of the most relevant chapters in the history of our world during the last seven decades.”

In total, 500 heads of state and dignitaries were in attendance at Queen Elizabeth II’s State Funeral. Only a handful of countries, including Russia, Belarus, Afghanistan, China, Myanmar, Syria, and Venezuela, were not invited at all. Iran, North Korea and Nicaragua were only invited at the ambassadorial level.

About author

Jess Ilse is the Assistant Editor at Royal Central. She specialises in the British, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish Royal Families and has been following royalty since Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee. Jess has provided commentary for media outlets in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Jess works in communications and her debut novel THE MAJESTIC SISTERS will publish in Fall 2024.