Emperor, Empress to Make State Visit to U.K. on Invitation of King Charles; Their Second Overseas Goodwill Trip to the U.K.

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Emperor and Empress boarding a plane at Tokyo’s Haneda airport for the United Kingdom to attend the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II in September 2022.

The governments of Japan and the United Kingdom have started preparations for the Emperor and Empress to visit the United Kingdom for about one week in late June, it has been learned.

During their stay, the Imperial couple will attend a welcoming ceremony as state guests on the invitation of King Charles III. The Emperor and Empress will visit the University of Oxford where the two studied before their marriage.

The Imperial couple’s visit to the United Kingdom was previously planned for the spring of 2020 for their first overseas visit in the Reiwa era (2019-). But the plan was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Also, King Charles began taking cancer treatment early this year. The two governments have been preparing for the visit with considerations made for these circumstances.

According to sources familiar with the matter, the Imperial couple will leave Japan on June 22 for London. In addition to attending the welcoming ceremony and banquet at Buckingham Palace, the Emperor and Empress will attend a luncheon with U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his wife, a dinner hosted by London Mayor Sadiq Khan, and other occasions.

On the sideline of official events, the two governments are arraigning that the Imperial couple will attend a gathering of people who have contributed to the friendly relations between the two countries and will inspect a facility regarding transportation on the Thames River, a theme that the Emperor researched while he was studying in the United Kingdom for two years from 1983.

On the final day of the visit, the Imperial couple will visit the University of Oxford. One idea that has surfaced is that the two will tour sites connected to their memories as they visit the university’s Merton College, were the Emperor studied, and Balliol College, where the Empress studied, before heading to the airport to leave for Japan. The two are scheduled to return to Japan on June 29.

This will be their second overseas goodwill trip since the Emperor’s enthronement in 2019, following their visit to Indonesia in June last year. It will be their first visit to the United Kingdom since September 2022, when the Imperial couple attended the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II.