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18 July, 2024
 
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King Charles hosts Japan’s Emperor Naruhito during royal health challenges

Prince William joins Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako for ceremonial arrival

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Britain's King Charles III and Queen Camilla welcomed Japan's Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako to London on Tuesday, marking the beginning of a three-day state visit featuring a military parade, a carriage procession, and a state banquet.

Earlier in the day, Prince William, Charles' son and heir to the throne, visited the hotel where the 64-year-old emperor and empress were staying. The trio then proceeded to Horse Guards Parade for a ceremonial welcome.

King Charles, wearing a top hat, and Emperor Naruhito inspected the Guard of Honour, which stood in traditional scarlet uniforms and black bearskin hats despite the summer heat. Following this, they traveled to Buckingham Palace in a gold-trimmed horse-drawn carriage.

The emperor's visit aims to celebrate and strengthen military, cultural, and scientific ties between Japan and the UK. Originally planned for 2020, the visit was postponed due to the pandemic. It now takes place ahead of the British election on July 4, with some usual political engagements omitted. Emperor Naruhito will not meet with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at Downing Street, though both Sunak and opposition leader Keir Starmer will attend the state banquet at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday evening.

The visit comes at a challenging time for the British monarchy. King Charles, 75, was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year, and Catherine, Princess of Wales, is undergoing preventative chemotherapy treatment. Additionally, Princess Anne, Charles' younger sister, suffered a head injury in a horse-related incident on Sunday. Although expected to recover fully, she will not attend the state banquet.

Emperor Naruhito, who attended Queen Elizabeth II's funeral in 2022, has a fondness for Britain, having studied there in the early 1980s. He has often spoken of the kindness shown by the British royals during that time, including a memorable visit to Balmoral Castle in Scotland where Charles took him fly fishing.

During the visit, Charles and Naruhito will reminisce over lunch at Buckingham Palace before viewing Japanese-related items from the royal collection and touring Westminster Abbey in the afternoon.

[Information sourced from Reuters]

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