Prince Charles arrived in Tokyo yesterday to carry out a short visit to Japan. The main reason of the visit was, of course, the enthronement ceremony of Emperor Naruhito, with The Prince of Wales representing The Queen at the historical events.
Royalty from all corners of the world converged on Tokyo, Japan, for one of the oldest royal rituals in the world – the enthronement of the new Emperor and Empress of Japan. Beginning with purple curtains being pulled back to reveal the Emperor and Empress in traditional dress, the event took place at the Imperial Palace. The ceremony was conducted in silence and involved a secret presentation of a sword, jewel and ancient symbols of imperial power that are considered so sacred that they have never been seen in public.
Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako have been emperor and empress since May 1st, but yesterday’s ceremony officially formalised their ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne. They were watched by Emperor Akihito, who became the first emperor in centuries to abdicate the Japanese throne. He did so over fears that his age, he is 85, might have an effect on his ability to perform official duties.
Arriving at the palace, Charles was greeted by 25 dignitaries outside of the Palace, scaled down from 75 due to bad weather;:Japan is in the middle of typhoon season. The Prince, who posed for photos at the British Embassy before embarking for the Palace, wore the sash of the Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum, Japan’s highest honour which he received back in 1971.
He was seated beside Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary of Denmark for the main event of the day, called Sokui no Rei in Japanese. The three of them were seen speaking together and sharing a laugh before the ceremony got underway.
This wasn’t the first time that Charles has attended the enthronement of a Japanese emperor. In 1990, Charles and Diana were present at the enthronement of Emperor Akihito – the new emperor’s father.
The event ended with the call of ‘Long live the Emperor!’ and, after a change into something less formal, Charles carried out his first engagement of the visit that was not tied to the new emperor.
The Prince of Wales visited the Nezu Museum and Japanese Garden. The museum is home to the private collection of the pre-modern Japanese and East Asian art of Nezu Kaichirō. The museum was established upon Nezu’s death in 1940 and was first opened the the public a year later in 1941. The collections at the museum escaped the destruction of the Second World War by being stored away from central Tokyo. Today, the museum holds around 7,400 works.
Prince Charles enjoyed a walk through the beautiful garden alone. He also spoke with his guides about his love for water colours and the gardening skills that he uses on his own gardens at his various properties. The Royal also paints.
After another change of outfit, it was back to the Imperial Palace for the last event of the day in connection to the enthronement. Charles attended the Court Banquet, which marked Emperor Naruhito’s first official engagement since his enthronement. The future British King was met by the Emperor and Empress upon arrival, bowing his head to them both as he ranks lower than them (despite being older than them both!).
The first day of Charles’ visit, and a historical day for Japan, came to a close with him surrounded by other Royals enjoying a meal in celebration.