A Chinese government delegation is said to have been blocked by parliamentary authorities from attending the Queen’s lying-in-state at Westminster Hall.
Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle reportedly turned down a request for access to visit Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin on the parliamentary estate due to the Chinese sanctions imposed five MPs and two peers.
Despite the row, China’s vice president Wang Qishan expected to attend the Queen’s funeral at Westminster Abbey on Monday.
Sir Lindsay Hoyle told colleagues he had refused a request for Chinese officials to visit Westminster Hall ahead of the funeral, a senior parliamentary figure told Politico.
A Commons spokesman said “we do not comment on security matters” when queried. A spokesman for Sir Lindsay also declined to comment.
China’s ambassador to Britain Zheng Zeguan was banned from the parliamentary estate last year, with Sir Lindsay saying it would not be “appropriate” to let the Chinese envoy on to the estate while MPs were subject to sanctions.
It followed Beijing sanctions on MPs and peers – including former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith – over criticism of China’s treatment of the Uighur minority in the Xinjiang province and the country’s human rights record.
World leaders attending the funeral have been invited to join the lying-in-state in Westminster Hall ahead of the service on Monday, but the government said access to parliament was up to the parliamentary authorities.
China’s vice president, rather than president Xi Jingping, is expected to represent Beijing at the funeral, a British foreign office source said on Thursday.
Sir Iain has accused the government of “operation kowtow” on the invite. The senior Tory, the MPs and peers subjected to sanctions have written to the foreign secretary James Cleverly, urging that the invitation for a Chinese government official to attend the funeral is withdrawn.
“It is incredible that the government would contemplate inviting representatives of the government of China to attend such an important international occasion as the state funeral,” Tory MP Tim Loughton told The Independent.
However, Tory MP Richard Graham said there it would be “extraordinary” if China was not given an invitation, given full diplomatic relations, telling LBC: “I honestly don’t think there’s any benefit to anyone in raised questions about who has been invited by the Palace to the state funeral.”
Invitations to the Queen’s state funeral have not been sent to Russia, Belarus or Myanmar, while Iran will only be represented at an ambassadorial level, it is understood.
Liz Truss will meet a “small proportion” of world leaders attending the funeral at the country mansion of Chevening House and No 10 this weekend.
The prime minister hopes to hold a private meeting with US president Joe Biden, and there are reports she could also meet with Irish premier Micheal Martin, amid ongoing tensions over the protocol. But Ms Truss is not expected to meet the Chinese vice-president.
In June Boris Johnson’s father called on parliament to lift a ban on the Chinese ambassador ahead of his own visit to China to retrace the steps of Marco Polo.
Stanley Johnson, who said he was planning a trip to Xinjiang for a TV programme on the famous explorer, described Mr Zheng as a “very agreeable, capable and intelligent man”.