Japanese emperor and empress meet with Royals - after Emperor Naruhito studied his life's passion The Thames barrier

25 June 2024, 14:29 | Updated: 25 June 2024, 14:39

Japanese emperor and empress meet King Charles and Queen Camilla
Japanese emperor and empress meet King Charles and Queen Camilla. Picture: Alamy/Getty

By Emma Soteriou

The Japanese emperor and empress met Charles and Camilla as part of their state visit to the UK - after reconnecting with one of their great passions in a visit to the Thames Flood Barrier.

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Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako arrived at Stansted Airport on Saturday and have since had private engagements.

They visited the Thames Flood Barrier on Monday, with the river being one of the emperor's life-long passions.

As a student at Oxford University in the 1980s, his research focused on water transport on the River Thames in the 18th century.

He went on to write a memoir in the 90s called The Thames And I.

Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako
Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako. Picture: Alamy

On Tuesday morning, the emperor and empress met with Prince William at their hotel before being escorted to the Horse Guards Parade.

The pair were officially greeted by the King and Queen at the Royal Pavilion before the Guard of Honour gave a royal salute and the Japanese national anthem was played.

Emperor Naruhito and Charles then inspected the Guard of Honour before heading back to Buckingham Palace for lunch.

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King Charles and Queen Camilla greet Japanese Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako
King Charles and Queen Camilla greet Japanese Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako. Picture: Alamy

The Japanese state visit to the UK is taking place between Tuesday and Thursday - ending exactly a week before the General Election.

A Palace spokesman said this week's programme had been "slightly adapted", adding: "As a general principle, it has of course been adapted as a result of the current pre-election period of sensitivity."

Missing events include Downing Street talks with the PM, a speech to the Palace of Westminster by the visiting head of state, and meetings with opposition leaders.

King Charles and Japan's Emperor Naruhito, followed by Queen Camilla and Empress Masako, arrive at Buckingham Palace
King Charles and Japan's Emperor Naruhito, followed by Queen Camilla and Empress Masako, arrive at Buckingham Palace. Picture: Alamy

Later on Tuesday, the guests will tour a Royal Collection exhibition in the Picture Gallery and then lay a wreath at the Grave of the Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey.

In the evening, Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako will attend a lavish state banquet, where the King and the emperor will give speeches.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak shakes hands with Emperor Naruhito
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak shakes hands with Emperor Naruhito. Picture: Alamy
King Charles with Emperor Naruhito
King Charles with Emperor Naruhito. Picture: Alamy

However, Princess Anne will miss the state banquet while she recovers from minor head wounds and a concussion.

The Princess Royal is being treated at Southmead Hospital in Bristol after she was injured in an "impact with a horse’s head or legs" while walking on her Gatcombe Park estate in Gloucestershire.

Members of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards
Members of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards. Picture: Getty
Home Secretary James Cleverly, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron ahead of the Ceremonial Welcome of Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako
Home Secretary James Cleverly, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron ahead of the Ceremonial Welcome of Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako. Picture: Getty

Despite the injuries, she is said to be conscious and comfortable and is expected to make a ‘full and swift’ recovery.

She will remain in hospital for the rest of the week and will be kept under observation.

Princess Kate will not be in attendance either as she continues to have treatment for her cancer.

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