Dignitaries from around the globe have turned out today to attend the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II. Among them is no shortage of royalty—both relatives and friends from the royal families of Europe, as well as members of more far-flung royal houses, like Japan's Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako.
To some, the decision of the Japanese royals to attend is unexpected. As the AP reports, the imperial family traditionally avoids funerals on account of a cultural belief about the impurity of death, based in Shintoism. However, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said in a statement that the Japanese government had requested the the Emperor and Empress make an exception in honor the close relationship between Japan's imperial house and the British royal family.
Despite the distance between their countries, there have been close connections between the Japanese and British royals for several generations. In fact, then-Prince Charles was not only in attendance for Naruhito's enthronement ceremony when he rose to the Chrysanthemum Throne in 2019, he was also there for the accession of Naruhito's father, the now-Emperor Emeritus Akihito, 30 years before. The Queen herself invited the Emperor and Empress to the UK for what would have been their first state visit shortly after Naruhito's enthronement, however the trip was necessarily postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Naruhito had previously released a statement conveying his condolences to the British royal family, praising the Queen's leadership as well as his warm memory of how she once hosted him for tea while he was studying at Oxford in the 1980s.
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