A look ahead at the key events leading the news agenda next week, from the team at Foresight News. Delivered to your inbox on Fridays.
Leading the week
Queen Elizabeth II is laid to rest on Monday (September 19) in the first state funeral the UK has seen since the death of Winston Churchill in 1965. Over 2,000 people will attend the service: current and former prime ministers and politicians, foreign leaders including US President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron, royals including Japan’s Emperor Naruhito, and nearly 200 people who were recognised in The Queen’s Birthday Honours this year. The Queen’s coffin will be taken from Westminster Hall, where thousands of people have queued for up to five miles to see the former monarch lying in state, to Westminster Abbey via a procession, accompanied by The King and other senior royals.
The day will be heavy on pomp and ceremony. A nationwide two-minutes’ silence will follow the service at 11:55am, before a procession to Wellington Arch punctuated by gun salutes and tolling from Big Ben. From there, Her Majesty’s body will be transferred to the State Hearse for the drive to Windsor, where another procession will take her up the Long Walk to St George’s Chapel for a smaller committal service in front of a congregation of 800 people at 4pm. Prior to the final hymn, the Imperial State Crown, the Orb and the Sceptre will be removed from The Queen’s coffin and placed on the altar, and the Lord Chamberlain will break his Wand of Office to place it on the coffin before it’s lowered into the Royal Vault. The Queen will be buried privately alongside the Duke of Edinburgh in the King George VI Memorial Chapel in a private service at 7:30pm, bringing the national mourning period to a close.
While the royal family will continue their mourning period for another seven days, the rest of the UK formally moves on as flags return to full mast on Tuesday and the business of government resumes in Westminster next week. With inflation still running close to a 40-year high and last week’s GDP figures showing slower-than-expected growth in July, tackling the cost of living crisis remains the priority for Liz Truss over the coming months. Having announced a new Energy Price Guarantee during her first week in office, the new prime minister’s plans for the NHS and wider economy are expected to be set out in statements from Health Secretary Therese Coffey on Thursday (September 22) and Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng on Friday (September 23).
Truss made a series of pledges on health during the leadership campaign, notably promising to end an exodus of NHS doctors and suggesting that money be diverted from the health service to fund improvements to social care; Coffey has had little opportunity to make her mark on one of the most challenging jobs in government, but as Cabinet no.2 she’s unlikely to stray too far from those campaign promises at this stage. The new chancellor, meanwhile, immediately sought to stamp his authority on the Treasury by sacking long-serving permanent secretary Tom Scholar and telling staff to focus on growth over fiscal discipline. Truss is also expected to travel to New York this week for what should have been her first international intervention, though by the time she makes her speech at the UN General Assembly she’ll already have played host to a number of world leaders, having met with the likes of Joe Biden, Micheal Martin, and Anthony Albanese over the weekend. Her UNGA speech had initially been pencilled in for Thursday, but the schedule is notoriously moveable and the most recent version was published before The Queen’s death.
The UNGA General Debate opens on Tuesday (September 20) and continues all week. Though the revisions necessitated by the funeral make it difficult to know yet which leaders will be speaking on which day, highlights are likely to include the speeches from US President Joe Biden, Prime Minister Liz Truss, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, and Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid. Neither Russian President Vladimir Putin nor Chinese President Xi Jinping will attend, though this has been the case for years. Ukraine is seeking a special exemption to rules barring leaders from participating virtually to allow President Volodymyr Zelensky to address the debate virtually – a vote on that in the General Assembly is expected later today. A ministerial session of the UN Security Council takes place on the Thursday (September 22) to discuss the war in Ukraine.
Italians head to the polls on Sunday (September 25) to vote in snap elections prompted by the collapse of the coalition led by former European Central Bank Governor Mario Draghi over the summer. The election is garnering particular attention amid polling which suggests Giorgia Meloni, the 45-year-old leader of the far-right Brothers of Italy party, is favourite to become the country’s next prime minister. Meloni leads a coalition that also includes far-right Lega party leader Matteo Salvini and 85-year-old former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, who would be making quite the political comeback for someone forced out of office amid the now infamous ‘bunga bunga’ sex parties.