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Queen Elizabeth II: Saudi crown prince to miss funeral in London

Prince Turki bin Faisal set to attend ceremony instead of Mohammed bin Salman, foreign office source tells Reuters
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman waves as he arrives at 10 Downing Street in central London on 7 March 2018 (AFP)

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is set to miss the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II on Monday, a UK foreign office source has told Reuters. 

The UK had previously expected the de facto leader of the Gulf kingdom to attend the ceremony for the late monarch, who died on 8 September at the age of 96. The change was made by Saudi Arabia, the source said on Sunday, adding that Prince Turki bin Mohammed was now expected to represent the kingdom. 

Mohammed bin Salman had been expected to travel to the UK to pay his condolences, according to a report by the Guardian on Friday. It is not clear whether he will now skip the trip altogether. 

It was set to be the crown prince's first visit to the UK since the assassination of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a former columnist for Middle East Eye and the Washington Post, inside his country's consulate in Istanbul in 2018. 

The UK has sanctioned 19 aides to the crown prince suspected of murdering Khashoggi, including former top bin Salman aide Saud al-Qahtani. A US intelligence report concluded that the crown prince was responsible for Khashoggi's murder, something that he denies. 

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On Friday, Khashoggi's fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, said: "The crown prince should not be allowed to be part of this mourning and not be allowed to stain [the queen's] memory and use this time of mourning to seek legitimacy and normalisation."

Elizabeth II met five successive kings of Saudi Arabia: Faisal, Khalid, Fahd, Abdullah and Salman. She met King Khalid in 1979 during her only state visit to the Gulf kingdom, during which he gifted her a diamond necklace that was later frequently worn by the queen's daughter-in-law, the late Princess Diana. 

The queen's funeral will be the largest gathering of royals, prime ministers, presidents and other leaders from around the world in decades. Several leaders from the Middle East are among those set to attend. 

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