(ATTN: UPDATES with details from briefing in paras 4-11, 14; ADDS photo)
By Lee Haye-ah
LONDON, Sept. 18 (Yonhap) -- President Yoon Suk-yeol on Sunday attended a reception in London hosted by King Charles III and expressed his condolences over the death of Queen Elizabeth II, his office said.
Yoon, who arrived with first lady Kim Keon-hee in London earlier in the day, attended the reception at Buckingham Palace ahead of the queen's state funeral Monday.
Yoon personally expressed his condolences to King Charles, who thanked the president for traveling to London to mourn his mother's death, according to the presidential office.
"President Yoon said he will never forget the queen who always dedicated herself as a guardian of freedom and peace, and that the people of the Republic of Korea share in the grief," Kim Eun-hye, senior presidential secretary for press affairs, told reporters in London.
Yoon also congratulated King Charles on his ascension to the throne.
The king appeared especially grateful that the president changed his schedule in order to attend the funeral, and introduced his family members to the president and the first lady -- his wife, Queen Consort Camilla, his son Prince William and William's wife, Kate Middleton.
Kate said she has never been to South Korea and would like to visit if invited, while King Charles noted his last visit to the country was in 1992 and he would like the opportunity to visit again.
Yoon replied that they are always welcome, according to Kim.
Yoon also met with other leaders attending the reception, including British Prime Minister Liz Truss, U.S. President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden.
With the Bidens, he said he looks forward to seeing them again soon at the U.N. General Assembly in New York later this week.
After the reception, Yoon held a phone call with Prime Minister Han Duck-soo in Seoul and instructed him to make thorough preparations against Typhoon Nanmadol.
Yoon was initially scheduled to visit a Korean War memorial to honor British troops who fought alongside South Korea during the 1950-53 conflict, and pay his respects at the coffin of the queen at Westminster Hall.
Both events were canceled due to scheduling issues amid heavy traffic in the city.
The president will instead hold a ceremony Monday where he will confer medals on British veterans of the Korean War, according to his office.
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