Arab News Japan
Japan’s Emperor Naruhito on Friday hailed Queen Elizabeth’s “many achievements and contributions”, saying he felt “deep sorrow” at news of her death.
“I express my heartfelt respect and gratitude to the Queen for the many achievements and contributions she has made,” he said in a statement issued by the Imperial Household Agency.
A royal relationship existed between Queen Elizabeth II and Japan’s imperial dynasty, which spanned three emperors over her reign of 70 years. During the years of the friendship, in an attempt to signify mutual respect, the very highest decorations were exchanged and royals from both countries went out on formal visits from opposite sides of the world in order to meet.
The bond was formed as the Queen led the way to overcome difficulties between the two nations that were enemies during World War II. She interacted with former Emperor Hirohito (posthumously called Emperor Showa) Emperor Emeritus Akihito and the current Emperor Naruhito.
In 1953, the then Crown Prince Akihito attended the coronation ceremony of the Queen on behalf of his father, Emperor Showa. In the preceding month, he was welcomed by the Queen during a visit to Buckingham Palace in London, where they held friendly conversations and watched horse racing together, despite the anti-Japanese sentiment that the war had left among the British public.
Emperor Showa, during a visit to Britain in October 1971, rode a horse-drawn carriage with the Queen from London’s Victoria station to Buckingham Palace and stayed at the palace for three nights, specially extended by the Queen although the regular length of stay was up to two days for state guests.
In May 1975, the Queen became the first British monarch to visit Japan, together with her husband, Prince Philip, who died last year.
During a state banquet at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Emperor Showa expressed gratitude for the warm welcome he received in Britain four years earlier and in 1921 as crown prince.
Emperor Emeritus Akihito and Empress Emerita Michiko, who were crown prince and crown princess at the time, visited Britain in 1976. The couple spent time with the Queen during a two-night stay at Windsor Castle, riding a car driven by the Queen and riding horses together, according to an aide.
In 1998, during another visit to Britain, the Emperor Emeritus looked back at the 1976 trip and described it as a memory that remained deep in his heart.
In 2012, the couple, then the Emperor and the Empress, made a visit to attend the diamond jubilee of the Queen’s coronation, just three months after the Emperor Emeritus’ heart surgery.
Among the guests present at a royal luncheon, the Emperor Emeritus was one of the only two who had attended the 1953 coronation, along with the former king of Belgium. At the luncheon, the Royal Family arranged a seat next to the Queen for the Emperor Emeritus.
Emperor Naruhito studied in Britain for some two years from 1983, during which he formed close ties with the Queen as he attended royal events such as tea and garden parties.
He also stayed at Scotland’s Balmoral Castle, where the Queen died Thursday, together with the royal couple. Looking back at the experience later, the Emperor said he spent the time there in an atmosphere that made him feel as if he was a member of the family, according to an aide.
with JIJI Press/ AFP