Home Europe Japan’s Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako Embark on a State Visit to...

Japan’s Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako Embark on a State Visit to the UK

In a grand display of royal pageantry and diplomacy, King Charles III and Queen Camilla have warmly welcomed Japanese Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako to the United Kingdom. The Japanese imperial couple arrived for a three-day state visit that underscores the deep-rooted and multifaceted relationship between the two nations.  The visit commenced with a ceremonial greeting at the Horse Guards Parade on a sunny Tuesday. The Emperor and Empress were formally received by King Charles, who greeted them in Japanese, and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. The Prince of Wales also played a significant role, greeting the imperial couple at their hotel and accompanying them to the Horse Guards Parade. Following the ceremony, a carriage procession took the guests to Buckingham Palace, with Queen Camilla and Prince William joining the spectacle.

A Guard of Honour formed by the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, along with the Band of the Welsh Guards, was inspected by King Charles and Emperor Naruhito. The event was followed by a private lunch at the royal residence, after which the Emperor and Empress were given a tour of a Royal Collection exhibition in the Picture Gallery and paid respects at the Grave of the Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey. Tuesday evening saw a lavish state banquet held in the Emperor and Empress’s honor at Buckingham Palace. King Charles delivered a welcoming speech, toasting the enduring friendship between the UK and Japan, highlighting shared cultural and scientific ties, and referencing popular Japanese icons such as Hello Kitty and Pokémon. Emperor Naruhito, in his speech, reflected on his fond memories of studying at Oxford and emphasized the importance of mutual understanding and friendship between the two nations.

The Japanese imperial couple brought symbolic gifts, including a black lacquerware box and a brocade handbag for the King and Queen, respectively, along with a framed photo of themselves. The lacquerware was particularly meaningful, referencing the Noto Peninsula earthquake and the traditional crafts of Wajima city. In return, King Charles presented the Emperor with a pair of silver and gold beakers and a bottle of Glen Garioch whisky. Queen Camilla gifted Empress Masako a handmade fan featuring good luck symbols. The visit, the first by a Japanese head of state since 1998, also included private engagements prior to the official state activities. The Emperor and Empress will spend a total of seven days in the UK, with planned visits to cultural and scientific sites, such as the Young V&A Museum and the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew.

On Thursday, the final day of their state visit, the Japanese royals will bid farewell to King Charles and Queen Camilla before visiting St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle to lay a wreath on the tomb of the late Queen Elizabeth II. The couple will then proceed to Oxford for a private visit to their respective colleges, marking a nostalgic return to the place where they studied in the early 1980s.

This visit, occurring a week before the UK’s general election, focused on the symbolic and cultural ties between the royal families rather than political discussions. It represents a significant moment in fostering friendly relations across generations, as highlighted by both British and Japanese officials. As Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako’s visit draws to a close, their time in the UK will be remembered as a testament to the enduring friendship and shared heritage between the two nations.