Britain’s King Charles III welcomes Japanese emperors

King Charles III received the Japanese Emperor and Empress on a state visit that began on Tuesday with all pomp and circumstance as Britain seeks to strengthen its role as the most influential European country in the Indus region.

Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako are scheduled to attend a banquet hosted by the king, lay a wreath at Westminster Abbey, and visit one of Britain’s leading biomedical research institutes. The Emperor began his journey this week with a visit to a site of special significance: the Thames Embankment.

Retractable flood control gates on the River Thames seemed a natural destination for a member of the royal family long interested in the waterway that runs through the heart of London. Naruhito studied river trade in the 18th century during his graduate studies at Oxford University about 40 years ago.

He recorded this interest in his memoirs, “The Times and Me,” along with his fondness for Britain and its people. The future emperor had the opportunity to experience life outside the palace walls, including ironing his own clothes, going to the bank, and going to bars.

The festive welcome on Tuesday seemed warm. Carlos and Naruhito, who had known each other for years, sat in the back of one of the carriages and talked like old friends.

Masako was wearing a mask in her carriage due to an allergy to horsehair.

Both countries view the other as a source of stability and mutual security at a time of global political change that may lead to destabilization.

“We have a long history of engagement,” said John Nelson Wright, director of the Japan and the Koreas program at the Center for Geopolitics at the University of Cambridge. But…this visit (is) a reflection of the personal bonds of affection between the two royal families (and) perhaps most important of all, the geopolitical importance of the relationship.

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