It has never been possible for so many world leaders and dignitaries to be gathered at once.
Officially representing their countries and peoples, leaders were present.
For many, this was also a personal matter. They came to the aid of a loved one.
It was an amazing moment just before the Queen’s funeral.
Broadcasters were rightly focused on Britain’s Royal Family being driven into Westminster. However, royals from all over the globe were being ushered into Westminster Abbey.
Japan’s Emperor Naruhito led an assortment of kings, queens, grand dukes, and crown princes who entered through the north door.
Each person would have the right to a full visit to the state in their own rights in normal times, but here they were just another group of visitors who were happy to ignore any distinctions of rank or status and be bussed in to their place.
Death was indeed the great leveller at this funeral
We had seen heads of governments and states, prime ministers, and diplomats come out of coaches earlier and find their place inside the abbey.
Strict protocol was used to address the perils of seating, and who should sit next to whom.
Joe Biden might be the head of superpower, but he was only 14 rows back of 500 foreign dignitaries occupying the abbey’s south transept.
The front rows were occupied by the royals, then the governors general of realms, which are those countries that still have the monarch as their head of state and the commonwealth leaders.
The Queen has served as a counselor to generations of leaders all over the globe, valued for her wisdom and experience gleaned from many decades of rule and the many presidents or prime ministers she’s known.
Foreign dignitaries were present to witness history just as much as the thousands of people who walked the streets of London and along the route to Windsor.
This was the greatest international event of the century, and the Queen was undoubtedly the most famous person on the planet.
Pictures: Foreign dignitaries and Royals gather for Queen’s Funeral
As royals bid farewell, Elizabeth II will be laid to rest
The Queen’s coffin and King’s farewell are seen in public for their final moments
It took a lot of effort to gather such a large group of distinguished and powerful people. British diplomats worked around the clock in a command center nicknamed the hanger.
It takes several months to plan a state visit. These were many, all rolled into one, and organized in less than a week.
Logistics are a problem. Buses solved the transportation problem. The world’s top leaders gathered in Chelsea to board buses and transfer to coaches.
Only the US president seems to have balked at or been granted an exemption. Joe Biden arrived in Cadillac One with a reduced motorcade.
It took care to navigate a diplomatic minefield with finesse.
Juan Carlos, the former Spanish king, has split from his son. King Felipe is said to be unhappy that they were invited. Their British hosts would have wanted to prevent leaders from rival countries bumping into one another.
Although the funeral was not without diplomatic risk, it has also provided opportunity. Britain has been at its best. No one does pomp and circumstance better than Britain.
Although politics is off the agenda, ministers and officials will be taking advantage of having so much support and friends at one time in a variety of meetings and “pull-asides”.
Diplomacy is all in the soft power. It was best practiced by the Queen.
She would have agreed, there is no doubt.