Queen’s lying-in-state: China blocked from Westminster Hall

A Chinese government delegation has been banned from attending the lying-in-state of Queen Elizabeth II, BBC News understands.

House of Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle refused a request for access to Westminster Hall due to Chinese sanctions against five MPs and two peers, Politico first reported.

Queen Elizabeth is set to lie in state there until her funeral on Monday.

The House of Commons told the BBC it did not comment on security matters.

Last year, China imposed travel bans and asset freezes on nine Britons – including seven parliamentarians – for accusing Beijing of mistreating Uighur Muslims.

That led to China’s ambassador to the UK being banned from Parliament – a move which has now been extended to a delegation that wanted to pay their respects at Queen Elizabeth’s lying-in-state.

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UK-China relations are already strained and this ban is unlikely to help.

However, China’s vice-president is expected to attend Monday’s state funeral which will be held across the road from Parliament at Westminster Abbey.

According to the parliamentary rule book Erskine May, in 1965 Queen Elizabeth II consented that control of Westminster Hall would be shared between the Lord Great Chamberlain – who is appointed by the monarch – and the speakers of both the Commons and the Lords.

There is no specific mention regarding control of access for an occasion such as a lying-in-state, but when it comes to “invitations to foreign dignitaries to address both Houses in Westminster Hall” these are “ordinarily” issued by the agreement of all three.

Last September, Sir Lindsay and Lord’s Speaker Lord McFall told China’s ambassador to the UK he could not come to Parliament because of Beijing’s sanctions.

At the time that ban was criticized by the Chinese government as “despicable and cowardly”.

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