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King Charles III To Host Japanese Royals Amid UK General Election Campaign 

Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako of Japan have begun a three-day state visit to the UK, reinforcing bilateral ties.

Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako of Japan have embarked on a three-day state visit to the United Kingdom, marking a significant event aimed at strengthening the bilateral ties between the two nations. 

This visit, the first by a Japanese head of state since 1998, commenced with a formal royal greeting at Horse Guards Parade, followed by a ceremonial carriage ride up the Mall to Buckingham Palace.

Upon arrival, the Japanese royal couple will be welcomed with a state banquet hosted by King Charles III at Buckingham Palace. The banquet, held in the opulent surroundings of the palace’s ballroom, is set to feature the King toasting his esteemed guests, often in their native language, followed by a speech from the emperor in response. 

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Labour leader Keir Starmer are scheduled to attend the banquet, making it one of the last significant formal events before the upcoming general election.

The Princess Royal, however, will be absent from the banquet due to a head injury thought to have been caused by a horse, resulting in her hospitalization. Additionally, the ongoing general-election campaign has led to the unusual decision of the Japanese royal couple not visiting Downing Street, a departure from the typical protocol for such state visits.

The purpose of this visit extends beyond ceremonial pageantry, aiming to reinforce military, scientific, and cultural links between the UK and Japan. Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako’s itinerary includes visits to key British institutions such as Westminster Abbey, the Francis Crick Institute, Kew Gardens, and the Royal College of Music. They are also scheduled to lay a wreath on the tomb of Queen Elizabeth II in St George’s Chapel, Windsor.

State visits during a general election are rare, as they are often rescheduled to avoid conflicts with political campaigns. However, the Japanese visit has proceeded as planned, albeit without the customary meeting with the prime minister at 10 Downing Street.

The visit will conclude on a personal note for the emperor and empress, who will make a nostalgic return to their former colleges at Oxford University on Friday, after the official state visit has ended.

This visit not only commemorates the deep-rooted historical connections but also paves the way for future collaborations between the UK and Japan in various domains.

Chioma Kalu

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