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Japanese Emperor Naruhito is scheduled to travel to the United Kingdom for Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral.
The Imperial Household Agency stated that Naruhito and his wife, Empress Masako, were observing a solemn three days of mourning for Elizabeth.
Naruhito and Masako both attended Oxford University in England, where they met.
Both speak fluent English, and Naruhito met with Queen Elizabeth II multiple times as crown prince.
The couple intended to visit the British royal family in 2020 as their first official trip after ascending to the Chrysanthemum Throne. The coronavirus pandemic squashed those plans.
The trip will be Naruhito’s first overseas voyage since becoming emperor.
Emperors rarely leave Japan to attend funerals or other ceremonies for foreign heads of state.
However, there is a strong cultural and political bond between the British and Japanese royal families stretching back centuries that most likely is motivating the trip.
While the Japanese throne has been extant longer than the British crown, it was the English monarchy that helped inspire the modern structure of the Japanese imperial system under Emperor Meiji the Great at the beginning of the 20th century.
Emperor Emeritus Akihito and Empress Emerita Michicko attended the funeral of King of the Belgians Baudouin in 1993, the only recorded instance of a Japanese emperor attending a state funeral for a foreign royal.