Japanese royals arrive for three-day state visit

Official visit: Naruhito and Masako arriving at Stansted Airport near London. — Reuters

London: Japan’s Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako arrived in Britain for a three-day state visit hosted by King Charles III.

A special flight from Japan landed at London’s Stansted airport on Saturday.

The royal couple were to spend yesterday and today at private engagements before the official programme begins tomorrow.

The highlight will be a state banquet at Buckingham Palace, with all eyes on a possible appearance by heir to the throne Prince William’s wife Catherine, rarely seen in recent months due to cancer treatment.

Naruhito, 64, will also go to Windsor Castle, west of London, to lay a wreath on the tomb of Queen Elizabeth II.

The trip will be the emperor’s second official state visit since his accession to the throne in 2019, following a visit to Indonesia last year.

For Charles, 75, it will be the third state visit he has hosted since he became king following the death of his mother.

Speaking ahead of the trip, Naruhito said Britain’s royals treated him “like family” during his time studying in England in the 1980s. He recalled that during his two years at Oxford University, he was invited to Balmoral Castle in Scotland for a few days.

“I have very fond memories of the queen driving a car and inviting me to a barbecue... and Prince Philip showing me around by driving a carriage himself,” he told a rare press conference.

The state visit’s programme will also include a Guard of Honour ceremony, a carriage procession at Buckingham Palace, visits to museums and to the Francis Crick Institute, a biomedical research centre in London.

Before leaving on Friday, the Japanese emperor and empress will visit Oxford, where they both studied, for private engagements. — AFP

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