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Emperor Naruhito of Japan returns these days to a place where he was once happy. Almost four decades ago he lived in the United Kingdom while studying at Oxford and was welcomed by Elizabeth II as another member of the family. Behind were decades of a long and tumultuous history between two nations that went through wars. The emperors of Japan begin a three-day visit this Tuesday with Charles III, Camilla and Prince William as hosts. The Princess of Wales and Princess Anne will be the biggest absentees these days.

The trip was initially scheduled for 2020, but was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Now it is King Charles III’s first state visit since he was diagnosed with cancer and is in the middle of the campaign to choose a new British Prime Minister, a novelty in relation to the reign of Elizabeth II, who avoided this coincidence. The passage of Japan’s emperors was not postponed, but the agenda was “slightly adapted”, cites the Telegraph.

“I have very good memories of the Queen driving and inviting me to a barbecue and Prince Philip receiving me and driving the carriage himself”, shared Emperor Naruhito before leaving for a few days’ stay in the United Kingdom, quoted in the Telegraph . The sovereign was referring to memories of the 1980s, when he lived on Her Majesty’s land. “I was welcomed warmly, as if I were a member of the family.” It would have been Charles himself, at the time Prince of Wales, who taught the Prince of Japan how to fly fish, but without success for either of them, the current King Charles III would confess.

The official trip of the emperors of Japan takes place between the 25th and 27th of June, however Naruhito and Masako arrived in the United Kingdom last Saturday the 22nd. Both the first days of this trip and the last are dedicated to private tasks. This Tuesday morning, the state agenda begins with Prince William presenting his greetings to the emperors at the hotel where they are staying, in the name of the King. This is followed by a trip for the three to the Horse Guards Parade, grounds at the Palace of St. James where parades such as Trooping the Color take place. The emperors will be received by the kings in a welcome ceremony and the two heads of state will review the honor guard. A royal procession follows along The Mall to Buckingham Palace, according to the royal house’s website.


After having lunch, the emperors will be guided by the King through an exhibition related to Japan in the palace. The afternoon allows them a visit to Westminster Abbey. In the evening there will be a banquet at Buckingham Palace, which it is already known that Princess Anne will miss, after being injured by a horse and taken to hospital this Sunday night. Prince William will miss the England football team’s game at Euro 2024 to be present at the gala dinner. On Wednesday the agenda includes a visit to the Francis Crick Institute, for biomedical research, and in the evening another banquet, this time with the Dukes of Edinburgh at the Guildhall, a medieval building where the city council organizes some of its prestigious events .

The Duke of Edinburgh, the Queen Mother, Empress Nagako and Emperor Hirohito of Japan, Queen Elizabeth II. Behind you can see Prince Charles, Lord Snowdon and Princess Margaret. At a banquet on the occasion of the emperors’ official visit to the United Kingdom in 1971 © Getty Images

On the 27th, the emperors of Japan must go to the Young V&A, the Victoria & Albert museum dedicated to the family, to see an exhibition about their country. Emperor Naruhito will pay a private visit to the chapel at Windsor Castle to lay a wreath at Elizabeth II’s tomb. The official trip ends with a visit to Kew Gardens. Due to the election campaign to elect a new Prime Minister of the United Kingdom on July 4, the Emperor will not make the usual stop at Downing Street.

In the 1980s, then Prince Naruhito was studying in the United Kingdom, more precisely two years and four months in Oxford, where he dedicated himself to writing a thesis on navigation on the River Thames in the 18th century. At the time he was welcomed by Queen Elizabeth II and, in 1985, he even participated with the royal family in the official celebrations of the sovereign’s birthday, the Trooping the Color parade and was one of the Windsors on the balcony of Buckingham Palace. The same place where years before, on August 15, 1945, the royal family, made up of King George VI, Queen Elizabeth and princesses Elizabeth and Margaret, celebrated the surrender of Japan and the end of World War II.

In the private program of the days that Japan’s emperors spend in the United Kingdom now, in June 2024, there is a trip to university, which will also bring memories to the empress. Masako studied at Oxford and Harvard and before joining the royal family he had a diplomatic career working in the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Naruhito is well known to the public in Europe because he has been present at all the major events of the royal families of Japan. old continent, like weddings and funerals. He wrote a memoir about his time in the United Kingdom entitled “The Thames and I with a warm foreword by Prince Charles”, in which he recalls being received by Elizabeth II in Scotland, having tea with the Queen’s children, visiting the Princess Alexandra’s house and speak on the phone with Princess Margaret, describes the Telegraph.


In 1985, the now Emperor Naruhito of Japan was with the British royal family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, after the Trooping the Color ceremony, which marked Queen Elizabeth II’s birthday © Getty Images

Emperor Naruhito was born on February 23, 1960. He is the eldest son of the previous Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko. He studied History and would meet his future empress in 1986, at a tea held in honor of Infanta Elena of Spain, who was visiting Japan. Masako was born on December 9, 1963, grew up between Moscow and New York and studied law in Tokyo before heading abroad again. Her father was a diplomat and former president of the International Court of Justice. Masako and the heir to the throne married in 1993 and, after an abortion in 1999, they became parents of Princess Aiko in 2001. Naruhito has been Emperor since May 1, 2019, succeeding his father when he abdicated the throne of Japan.

Carlos III met three emperors of Japan and attended two enthronements of the Japanese imperial house. While Prince of Wales, he visited the 1970 Expo in Osaka. He was in Japan in 1986 (on a state trip accompanied by Diana). He was at the enthronement of Emperor Akihito, the current father, in November 1990, also with the Princess of Wales. He returned to Tokyo with Camila as his wife in 2008. And he was also present at the enthronement of the current Emperor, in October 2019. At the King’s coronation, in May 2023, the imperial family was represented by Prince Akishino and Princess Kiko , but it was the emperors who were present at the funeral of Isabel II.

Japan. 30 years later, the oldest reigning monarchy in the world has a new Emperor: Naruhito replaces his father on the Chrysanthemum Throne

In 1869, Prince Alfred, second son of Queen Victoria and Duke of Edinburgh, was traveling the world when he decided to stop in Japan, at a time when the Asian country was looking to the English industrial model as inspiration. In the 20th century, the two countries were allies, first in the 1904 war that pitted the Japanese empire against the Russian empire and then in World War I, points de Vue magazine recalls.

In 1921, Prince Hirohito, who would become Emperor of Japan five years later, crossed half the world and became the first member of the imperial family to visit Europe and the United Kingdom. At the time, the King was George V, who was 55 years old, and he received the young prince with hospitality and affection. “I went to the UK when I was 20 years old. I spent three days at Buckingham Palace, with King George V, and he taught me, together with the Prince of Wales, the future King Edward VIII, to become a constitutional sovereign”, Hirohito later confessed, according to quote the French magazine. “He was like a second father to me. What I learned from King George V about the nature of a constitutional monarchy marked me for life.”

From veteran Michiko to young Ayako. The silent march of the women of the Japanese imperial family

Hirohito may have taken with him some British habits, such as his taste for Saville Row tailors’ suits and for breakfast with eggs, ham and toast. He also did away with the concubines, leaving only Empress Nagako. When Japan launched an attack on the US naval base at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the Emperor was Hirohito, grandfather of the current sovereign. The United Kingdom sided with its allies the United States and declared war on Japan by the hand of Winston Churchill, the King was George VI, the grandfather of Charles III. The conflict took a number of prisoners of war from Commonwealth countries, many of whom did not resist ill-treatment.

Relations between the two countries began to be rebuilt in 1951, when the United States occupation of Japanese territory ended. Proof of this is that the heir, Prince Akihito, was present at the coronation of Elizabeth II in 1953 and was received as a guest of honor by Churchill. In October 1971, Emperor Hirohito and Empress Nagako were to make a three-day state trip to the United Kingdom, where they were received with the usual pomp and circumstance by Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip. Showing that there was a desire to heal old wounds, the visit was reciprocated by the British in 1975. The next emperor, Akihito, and Empress Michiko, would travel to the United Kingdom to see the Queen and her husband in May 1998, but there would have been contestation by some veterans and in the press. At the banquet, the Emperor spoke of repentance and would later be named a Knight of the Order of the Garter, the oldest order of British chivalry.


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