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Imperial Couple’s First State Visit Will Be to Britain

Society Imperial Family

The first overseas state visit by Emperor Naruhito will be to Britain, a country with which he has close ties. Here is a look back on the state visits Emperor Naruhito made while he was still crown prince.

Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako have been invited by Queen Elizabeth II to make a state visit to Britain in spring 2020. This will be the imperial couple’s first overseas visit since the succession last year. After graduating from Gakushūin University, the emperor studied at Oxford University from 1983 to 1985, and the empress also studied at Oxford from 1988 to 1990 while working for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which sponsored her. More recently in 2018, their daughter Princess Aiko participated in a summer high school program at Eton College, so the imperial family has a close connection with Britain.

The former Emperor Shōwa and Empress Kōjun visited Britain in 1971, while Emperor Emeritus Akihito and Empress Emerita Michiko visited in 1998 and again in 2012. Meanwhile, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip were welcomed as state guests to Japan in 1975. In 1986, Prince Charles and Princess Diana also made an official visit to Japan, sparking a “Diana boom.”

This will be the first time in five years that the imperial couple has made an overseas visit; the last being when they attended the coronation of King Tupou VI of Tonga in 2015.

Main Overseas Visits by Naruhito as Crown Prince

September 1989 Belgium Europalia 89 Japan opening ceremony
August 1990 Belgium International Economic History Congress
January 1991 Norway Funeral of King Olaf V
September 1991 Morocco Goodwill visit
Britain Japan Festival opening ceremony
July 1992 Spain Seville Expo ’92 and Barcelona Olympics opening ceremony
Venezuela, Mexico Goodwill visit
November 1994 Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain Goodwill visit
January 1995 Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Jordan Goodwill visit
February 1999 Jordan Funeral of King Hussein.
December 1999 Belgium Wedding of Prince Philippe.
May 2001 Britain Japan 2001 festival
January 2002 Netherlands Wedding of Prince Willem-Alexander
December 2002 New Zealand, Australia Goodwill visit
May 2004 Denmark Wedding of Crown Prince Frederik
Portugal Goodwill visit
Spain Wedding of Prince Felipe
September 2004 Brunei Wedding of Crown Prince Al-Muhtadee Billah
August 2005 Saudi Arabia Condolences on death of King Fahd
March 2006 Mexico World Water Forum
August 2006 Netherlands Recuperation trip for Crown Princess Masako (Princess Aiko also travels)
September 2006 Tonga Funeral of King Tupou IV
July 2007 Mongolia Goodwill visit
June 2008 Brazil Goodwill visit (on centennial of Japanese immigration into Brazil)
July 2008 Spain Goodwill visit (Expo 2008 in Zaragoza)
July 2008 Tonga Coronation of King Tupou V
February 2009 Vietnam Goodwill visit
March 2009 Turkey World Water Forum
March 2010 Ghana, Kenya Goodwill visit
June 2010 Sweden Wedding of Crown Princess Victoria
June 2011 Germany Goodwill visit (150 years of relations between Japan and Germany)
October 2011 Saudi Arabia Condolences on death of Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud
June 2012 Saudi Arabia Condolences on death of Crown Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz Al Saud
June 2012 Thailand, Cambodia, Laos Goodwill visit
October 2012 Luxembourg Wedding of Prince Guillaume
March 2013 United States United Nations Special Thematic Session on Water and Disasters
April 2013 Netherlands Investiture of King Willem-Alexander
June 2013 Spain Goodwill visit (400 years of relations between Japan and Spain)
December 2013 South Africa Funeral of former President Nelson Mandela
June 2014 Switzerland Goodwill visit (150 years of relations between Japan and Switzerland)
January 2015 Saudi Arabia Condolences on death of King Abdullah
July 2015 Tonga Coronation of King Tupou VI
November 2015 United States United Nations Special Thematic Session on Water and Disasters
April 2017 Malaysia Goodwill visit (60 years of relations between Japan and Malaysia)
June 2017 Denmark Goodwill visit (150 years of relations between Japan and Denmark)
March 2018 Brazil World Water Forum
September 2018 France Goodwill visit (160 years of relations between Japan and France)

Created by Nippon.com based on information from the Imperial Household Agency. Yellow highlighting indicates trips taken together with Crown Princess Masako.

(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo: After marrying, the imperial couple’s first overseas state visit was to four countries in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, in November 1994. Pictured at the Red Sand near Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. © Jiji.)

Britain Emperor Naruhito Empress Masako