Japan’s Emperor, Empress pay respects to Queen Elizabeth for 70 years of friendship with Imperial family

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The Emperor and Empress arrive for the state funeral service of Queen Elizabeth II at Westminster Abbey in London on Monday.

LONDON — The Emperor and Empress were among the dignitaries and heads of state and government who attended Queen Elizabeth II’s state funeral in London on Monday.

The couple offered prayers for the queen of the United Kingdom, who built warm relationships with three generations of Japan’s Imperial family over her seven decades on the throne.

The Emperor, 62, in a morning suit, and the Empress, 58, wearing a black jacket over a long black dress, arrived by chartered coach along with royals from other countries at Westminster Abbey for the state funeral.

The night before, the Emperor paid his respects before the coffin of the queen lying in state at Westminster Hall. He thanked the queen for her warmth and consideration, and quietly bade her farewell, according to a close aide.

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The Emperor, right, pays his respects to the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II during her lying in state at Westminster Hall in London on Sunday.

The friendship between the queen and the Imperial family spanned 70 years.

The Emperor Emeritus, then a 19-year-old crown prince, attended the queen’s coronation ceremony held in June 1953 at Westminster Abbey and congratulated her from his front-row seat.

In October 1971, Emperor Showa visited the United Kingdom for the first time as an emperor and laid flowers at the grave of the Unknown Warrior at Westminster Abbey. At a dinner that night, the queen reportedly touched on World War II, saying, “We cannot pretend that the past did not exist,” as she proposed a toast to the health of Emperor Showa.

In return, Emperor Showa expressed gratitude for the guidance he received from the queen’s grandfather King George V (1865-1936) and conveyed his wish to join in efforts with the United Kingdom to preserve tranquility in the world.

The current Emperor was warmly received by Queen Elizabeth like a family member while he was a college student in England from 1983 to 1985.

The queen and her husband, Prince Philip, invited him to Scotland, and he spent several days at Balmoral Castle, enjoying a barbeque and picnic on the estate and riding in a car driven by the royal couple, according to his aides.

Philip Corcos, 72, who taught English to the Emperor for three months while he was studying in England, expressed his appreciation that the Imperial couple attended the queen’s state funeral, saying the Emperor respected Queen Elizabeth very much.

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The Emperor and Empress attend the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II at Westminster Abbey in London on Monday.
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The Emperor and Empress sign a book of condolence, following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, at Church House in London on Monday.