WASHINGTON, Sept 17 — President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, leave for London on Saturday to attend Queen Elizabeth’s funeral, departing Washington without any former US presidents, who were not taking part in the sombre event.

The White House said earlier this week that the royal invitation to the funeral, which takes place on Monday at Westminster Abbey, was for the Bidens only.

The queen died on September 8 after a 70-year reign, sparking a grief and mourning across the United Kingdom and around the world.

She had met multiple US presidents, including, in more recent years, Donald Trump, Barack Obama and George W. Bush. She met 13 of the last 14 American presidents, all except Lyndon Johnson and starting with Harry Truman in 1951 when she was still a princess.

The Bidens, who joined the queen for tea in June 2021, are due to arrive in London on Saturday evening.

On Sunday they are scheduled to pay respects to the late sovereign, whose coffin is lying in Westminster Hall. Afterwards they will sign an official condolence book before attending a reception hosted by King Charles.

The state funeral on Monday is to be attended by nearly 100 presidents and heads of government.

Biden, 79, has said the queen reminded him of his mother. The president is deeply familiar with grief, having lost his adult son to cancer in 2015 and his wife and young daughter to a car accident decades ago.

The president will return to Washington on Monday after the funeral. — Reuters