British Army provides ceremonial splendour for Japanese State Visit

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Pictured: King Emperor Naruhito, accompanied by His Majesty The King inspects the Guard of Honour on Horse Guards Parade formed by 1st Battalion Welsh Guards. Photographer: Cpl Paul Squires. UK MOD © Crown copyright 2024. MOD Crown Copyright News / Editorial Licence.

Their Majesties The King and Queen greeted The Emperor and Empress of Japan with a full ceremonial welcome at the start of their State Visit to the United Kingdom today (Tuesday 25th June).

The official welcome began with a glittering ceremonial Welsh Guards Guard of Honour by the Royal Pavilion on Horse Guards Parade.

Their Majesties The King and Queen greeted The Emperor and Empress of Japan with a full ceremonial welcome at the start of their State Visit to the United Kingdom, on Tuesday 25th June. Photographer: Sgt Jimmy Wise UK MOD © Crown copyright 2024

The Mounted Band of the Household Cavalry with their magnificent Drum Horses, and four divisions of the Sovereign’s Escort of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment, were the first sights and sounds to greet the Emperor and Empress as they passed through the grand arches of the ancient Horse Guards Building.

The three-day Japanese State Visit will be filled with the very best state ceremonial the United Kingdom can offer.

Pictured: King Emperor Naruhito, accompanied by His Majesty The King arrive to inspect the Guard of Honour on Horse Guards Parade formed by 1st Battalion Welsh Guards. Photographer:
Cpl Paul Squires UK MOD © Crown copyright 2024

Involved will be over 1250 soldiers from the Household Division, including 250 Army musicians, and more than 240 magnificent military working horses, all immaculately turned out in honour of our esteemed visitors.

The King and Queen formally welcomed the Emperor and Empress at the Royal Pavilion on Horse Guards Parade. Presentations were made, the Guard of Honour gave a Royal Salute and the Japanese National Anthem will be played. 

The Emperor, accompanied by The King, then inspected the Guard of Honour, formed of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards with the Band of the Welsh Guards. Afterwards, the Emperor and Empress joined The King and Queen, and The Prince of Wales, in a carriage procession along The Mall to Buckingham Palace, where they were met by a second Guard of Honour formed of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards.  

Pictured: Prince William travels in a carriage with Japan’s Head of the Official Suite, Hirofumi Nakasone to Horseguards Parade Ground at the start of the Japanese State visit. Photographer: Cpl Paul Squires. UK MOD © Crown copyright 2024

Following a lunch at Buckingham Palace, given by The King, His Majesty will invite the Emperor and Empress to view a special exhibition in the Picture Gallery of items from the Royal Collection relating to Japan.

In the afternoon, the Emperor and Empress will visit Westminster Abbey, where the Emperor will lay a wreath at the Grave of the Unknown Warrior. Their Majesties will take a tour of the Abbey, accompanied by the Dean of Westminster.  

In the evening, The King, accompanied by The Queen and Members of the Royal Family, will give a State Banquet at Buckingham Palace for The Emperor and Empress of Japan. Speeches will be made by The King and the Emperor at the beginning of the banquet. 

Wednesday 26th June

The Emperor will visit The Francis Crick Institute, the UK’s flagship biomedical research centre. The Institute supports an innovative UK-Japan research partnership which covers a range of public health issues, including cancer, vaccines, and the role of genetics in infectious diseases. 

That evening, The Emperor of Japan, joined by Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh, will attend a Banquet at the Guildhall given by the Lord Mayor and City of London Corporation. The Lord Mayor and The Emperor will both make speeches at the end of the banquet.

Thursday 27th June

The Emperor and Empress of Japan will formally bid farewell to The King and Queen at Buckingham Palace on the morning of the final day of the official State Visit programme. 

The Emperor and Empress will travel to Young V&A, part of the V&A family of museums dedicated to the power of creativity around the world, where the museum’s Japan: Myths to Manga exhibition is currently on display. 

The Emperor will privately visit St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, to lay a wreath on the tomb of Queen Elizabeth II, in the King George VI Chapel. The Garter Banners of the current members of the Order of the Garter, including the banner belonging to His Majesty’s father, Emperor Emeritus Akihito, are displayed in the Quire of St. George’s Chapel. 

Later that afternoon, His Majesty the Emperor will tour the historic Temperate House at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. The Millennium Seed Bank, coordinated by Kew is the world’s largest collection of over 2.4 billion wild plant seeds spanning 97 countries, preserving Japanese and international biodiversity. Bronze Bonsai sculptures by artist Marc Quinn are currently displayed in the Temperate House, surrounded by a display of Bonsai trees from Kew’s collection. 

Friday 28th June

On their final day in the UK, The Emperor and Empress of Japan will visit Oxford for a private programme of engagements including a visit to the colleges where Their Majesties studied. 

At the conclusion of the visit, The Lord Chamberlain will bid farewell to the Emperor and Empress on behalf of The King, before they depart from RAF Brize Norton.

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