While many world leaders travelled to London to pay their respects at the funeral of Queen Elizabeth, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan did not join in, probably due to transport restrictions, Cumhuriyet newspaper reported.
Erdoğan, who had met the Queen twice, sent his condolences to the British public on the news of her death on 8 September, and later said he might attend her funeral. But on Sunday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu announced that he himself would represent Turkey in London.
The minister’s announcement was followed by news that foreign leaders had been asked to take commercial rather than private flights to London and to attend the funeral without a large entourage or vehicle convoy.
“Is this why Erdoğan does not attend the funeral of the Queen of a country with which Turkey has strategic relations including the defense industry, to an event that many world leaders attend?” asked journalist Murat Yetkin on his personal blog.
Yetkin’s question reflects speculation on Turkish social media, with journalist Ragıp Soylu remarking that the Turkish leader had avoided the ‘humiliation’ of a arriving at the funeral in a coach while US President Joe Biden came in a private jet and armoured car. Erdoğan previously cancelled a planned trip to the 2021 UN Climate Conference in Glasgow, after his large entourage and bodyguards were not granted permission to attend that occasion either.
Instead of London, Yetkin said, Erdoğan would cut a figure in New York, where he is slated to meet representatives of Turkish organisations rather than other world leaders.