Emperor, Empress to attend queen’s funeral

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Emperor and the Empress in Tokyo in June

The Emperor and Empress will attend Queen Elizabeth’s state funeral, scheduled to be held Monday in London, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno announced at a press conference on Wednesday.

It is highly unusual for a Japanese emperor to attend a funeral in a foreign country, and this will be the current Emperor’s first trip abroad since his enthronement. The government plans to formalize the plans through a Cabinet decision on Friday.

“The British royal family and the Imperial family of our country have had close relations for some time,” Matsuno said. “In particular, Queen Elizabeth interacted with three generations during her 70-year reign: Emperor Showa, the Emperor Emeritus and the current Emperor.”

Matsuno said the government also took into account the fact that the Imperial couple had been invited by the queen to visit the United Kingdom before the pandemic.

The Emperor and Empress will depart for Britain on Saturday and return to Japan on Tuesday, Matsuno said.

According to a source close to the situation, an invitation to the state funeral was sent from the British royal family, and the government was making arrangements.

This will be the second time an emperor of Japan has attended a foreign funeral. The previous occasion was in 1993 when the then Emperor, now the Emperor Emeritus, visited Belgium for the state funeral of King Baudouin, with whom he had a long-standing friendship.

Matsuno said there were no plans for Prime Minister Fumio Kishida or other government officials to attend the queen’s funeral.