By John Ikani
Reactions have continued to trail the viral video footage of US President, Joe Biden arriving in his motorcade for the Queen’s funeral, in sharp contrast to viral photos that captured African leaders ‘bundled’ in a bus to the event.
While several foreign VIPs – not just African African Leaders – were mandatorily chauffeured in shuttles to Westminster Abbey for the Queen’s funeral, Biden and First Lady Jill Biden were exempted from the protocols; they arrived in the armoured ‘BEAST’.
Why didn’t Biden get a feel of the “school trip energy” of travelling in a bus like other world leaders and international royalty to the Queen’s funeral?
What we know
UK’s Express, on Monday, reported that the White House demanded that Biden travel via a six-car motorcade for “security reasons”. Their request was granted by UK officials and the vehicle was flown to the UK.
The rest of the guests were transported in buses to “ease traffic congestion”, claims the publication.
Similarly, The Independent, quoted a former Metropolitan Police royal protection officer, Simon Morgan as saying the security risks to Mr Biden are judged to be higher than those for other leaders, meaning he was permitted to travel with a security team in his armoured vehicle ‘ The Beast’ rather than being put on a coach.
“It is understood that as US president, the security risks to Mr Biden are judged to be higher than those for other leaders, meaning he was permitted to travel with a security team in his armoured vehicle rather than being put on a coach,” said Morgan.
According to Foundation For Investigative Journalism (FIJ), ‘The Beast’ is the official vehicle used to transport the US President from one location to another. For security reasons, the US President uses ‘The Beast’ at all times.
The current model of ‘The Beast’ is a prototype bomb-proof Cadillac limousine built to provide multi-layered and state-of-the-art security for the president.
This car travels with the president whenever he is out of the United States and is always prepared to move the president as soon as possible.
An undignified arrangement?
Heritage Times (HT) gathered that yesterday’s funeral was not the first time foreign VIPs would be herded in buses to a significant event.
According to the former National Coordinator of UK’s Counter Terrorism policing, Nick Aldworth, buses were used to transport foreign dignitaries at the London 2012 Olympics for the same reasons.
“We ran out of protection officers and had to implement mutual aid to bring in pretty much every armed officer in the country,” he told The Independent.
“We put groups of people on coaches and minibuses because you need a smaller number of armed officers to protect them.”
There are viral posts with accompanying photos on social media claiming that African Leaders were not only bundled in a bus to the queen’s funeral but had to find a driver among themselves, in the person of Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
It is crazy how African leaders are loaded in one bus.
The Beast”was flown to London for US President Joe Biden while African Presidents are driven by bus by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.Their had to even find a driver among themselves. African leaders have reduced their self 0% pic.twitter.com/eAfzhOxHH9
— the darkpanther (@TrentBill4) September 19, 2022
HT fact-checked the image by carrying out a reverse image search. Results of the search revealed that the image had no connections with the Queen’s funeral.
In fact, the same image was posted on the website of Nehanda Radio, a Zimbabwean radio station, on April 17, 2019.
Information on the website showed that the Zimbabwean president sat on the driver’s seat while commissioning 39 out of 300 buses rolled out by the country’s government to support the public transport system.