Japanese state visit – hosted by the King – to go ahead despite election | UK News

It’s been confirmed that the Japanese state visit to the UK, hosted by the King, will go ahead despite the general election.

The important diplomatic invitation to Emperor Naruhito and his wife Empress Masako has been given the green light in an “adapted” form, even though it’ll take place just days before the country goes to the polls.

They will be guests of the King and Queen from 25 to 27 June, just a week before the vote on 4 July.

There were doubts that it would take place after Buckingham Palace announced that some royal engagements would be postponed in this “pre-election period of sensitivity”.

But the formal state occasion will include the traditional pomp and pageantry of a ceremonial welcome on Horse Guards Parade, a carriage procession and a grand banquet at Buckingham Palace.

The King and Queen during their last incoming state visit, when South Korea’s president visited Buckingham Palace. Pic: Reuters

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It’s not clear yet what exactly has been changed, but a Palace spokesman said the programme had been “slightly adapted”, adding: “As a general principle, it has of course been adapted as a result of the current pre-election period of sensitivity.”

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Missing elements appear to be the usual Downing Street talks with the prime minister, a speech to the Palace of Westminster by the visiting head of state, and meetings with opposition leaders.

So far, it is also unclear if Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and others would be invited to the white-tie state banquet or attend other elements of the visit.

State visits are planned by the Foreign Office, in consultation with the Palace, and the key event in the royal calendar is King Charles’s first incoming state visit since his cancer diagnosis.

The Prince of Wales will also take part in the visit, greeting the Emperor and Empress at their hotel on behalf of the King on 25 June and accompanying them to Horse Guards Parade.

But there was no mention of the Princess of Wales in the announcement from the Palace.

Kate is away from public duties while she undergoes chemotherapy for cancer.

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The Japanese state visit previously had to be postponed because of the COVID pandemic.

There was no occasion during Elizabeth II’s 70-year reign of an incoming state visit being staged in the time between the calling of a general election and polling day.

In 2017, a Spanish state visit by King Felipe VI was quickly rescheduled – following an agreement by the late Queen and King Felipe – because the date clashed with a snap election in the UK.


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