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Historic State Visit: Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako arrive in the UK

Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako of Japan have embarked on a three-day state visit to the UK, marking the first visit by a Japanese head of state since 1998. The royal couple will receive a ceremonial welcome, a carriage ride through the Mall and a state banquet hosted by King Charles III at Buckingham Palace. However, due to the ongoing general election campaign, they will not be visiting Downing Street.

The visit aims to strengthen military, scientific and cultural ties between the UK and Japan. It will begin with a formal royal salute on Horse Guards Parade, followed by a procession to Buckingham Palace. State visits during general elections are infrequent, usually rescheduled to avoid coinciding with political campaigning. However, this visit is going ahead as planned, albeit without the usual meeting with the Prime Minister.

The State Banquet, the highlight of the visit, will take place in the Great Ballroom of Buckingham Palace. King Charles III will honor his guests with a toast, often in his language, and a speech. Emperor Naruhito will answer. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Labor leader Keir Starmer will be present at the banquet, one of the last formal events before the next election.

The royal couple's itinerary for the next few days includes visits to Westminster Abbey, the Francis Crick Institute, Kew Gardens and the Royal College of Music. They will also lay a wreath at Queen Elizabeth II's grave at St George's Chapel in Windsor. After the state visit, they will revisit their old colleges at Oxford University, where they were both students, adding a nostalgic touch to their trip.

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