Empress Masako of Japan wears a white facemask in Semi-State Landau carriage with Queen Camilla due to her horse hair allergy – as King Charles and Prince William roll out the red carpet for Japanese state visit

The much-anticipated State Visit by the Emperor and Empress of Japan began today, with Prince William formally welcoming the couple to the UK on behalf of the King.

The Prince of Wales met the royal visitors at their London hotel this morning before escorting them to Horse Guards Parade, where Charles and Queen Camilla received them with a ceremonial welcome.

Camilla then rode in a carriage to Buckingham Palace with the Empress, who was wearing a white face mask throughout the ride because she is allergic to horse hair. 

William’s wife, the Princess of Wales, will not be taking part today as she continues to undergo preventative chemotherapy for an undisclosed form of cancer.

Emperor Naruhito and his wife Empress Masako arrived at Stansted Airport in Essex on Saturday and have undertaken a series of private engagements since then, but today marks the first formal element of their state visit which will run until Thursday.

The King and Queen greeted the Emperor and Empress at the Royal Pavilion on the iconic quadrangle before presentations were made, the Guard of Honour gave a royal salute and the Japanese national anthem was played.

The Emperor, accompanied by the King, then inspected the Guard of Honour, formed of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards with the Band of the Welsh Guards.

The King and Queen arrived at the Grand Entrance with Emperor Naruhito and his wife Empress Masako to the sound of the Japanese and British national anthems. 

Queen Camilla with Empress Masako of Japan arriving at Buckingham Palace in London today

King Charles III (second right) and  Camilla (second left) with Emperor Naruhito (far right) and Empress Masako of Japan (left) at the ceremonial welcome at Horse Guards Parade today

King Charles III (second right) and  Camilla (second left) with Emperor Naruhito (far right) and Empress Masako of Japan (left) at the ceremonial welcome at Horse Guards Parade today

Japan's Emperor Naruhito and King Charles arrive at Buckingham Palace in London today

Japan’s Emperor Naruhito and King Charles arrive at Buckingham Palace in London today

King Charles III and Emperor Naruhito of Japan arriving at Buckingham Palace this afternoon

King Charles III and Emperor Naruhito of Japan arriving at Buckingham Palace this afternoon

Japan's Emperor Naruhito and King Charles inspect the Guard of Honour, formed of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards with the Band of the Welsh Guards, during a state visit in London today

Japan’s Emperor Naruhito and King Charles inspect the Guard of Honour, formed of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards with the Band of the Welsh Guards, during a state visit in London today

King Charles III and Queen Camilla with Emperor Naruhito and his wife Empress Masako today

King Charles III and Queen Camilla with Emperor Naruhito and his wife Empress Masako today

King Charles III and Queen Camilla laugh at the welcome ceremony at Horse Guards Parade

King Charles III and Queen Camilla laugh at the welcome ceremony at Horse Guards Parade

Japan's Emperor Naruhito and King Charles inspect the Guard of Honour, formed of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards with the Band of the Welsh Guards, during a state visit in London today

Japan’s Emperor Naruhito and King Charles inspect the Guard of Honour, formed of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards with the Band of the Welsh Guards, during a state visit in London today

The Empress was wearing a face mask for her carriage ride in the open top landau due to her chronic allergy to horse hair.

The royal carriage procession arrived at the palace at 12.38pm – eight minutes behind schedule. The King and the Emperor could be seen deep in conversation as their carriage made its way around the quadrangle. The Emperor stepped from the 1902 State Landau first, and turned to wait for the King.

In the second carriage – a Semi-State Landau – Camilla accompanied the Empress, whose white face mask matched her dress.

In the palace quadrangle was a Guard of Honour from the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards in their scarlet tunics and bearskin hats, lined up in formation amid the 27C summer heat.

A dismounted Detachment of Household Cavalry stood either side of the Grand Entrance.

The Prince of Wales travelled in the third carriage – a Semi-State Landau – with Hirofumi Nakasone, the Japan party’s head of the official suite.

Japan's Emperor Naruhito and King Charles inspect the Guard of Honour,

Japan’s Emperor Naruhito and King Charles inspect the Guard of Honour,

King Charles and Camilla at the welcome ceremony at Horse Guards Parade in London today

King Charles and Camilla at the welcome ceremony at Horse Guards Parade in London today

Prince William greets Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako at their hotel in London today

Prince William greets Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako at their hotel in London today

Troops prepare to fire a gun salute on the day of the Japanese state visit in London today

Troops prepare to fire a gun salute on the day of the Japanese state visit in London today

King Charles III and Japanese Emperor Naruhito at Horse Guards Parade in London today

King Charles III and Japanese Emperor Naruhito at Horse Guards Parade in London today

A member of the Household Cavalry who lost her helmet during the procession today

A member of the Household Cavalry who lost her helmet during the procession today

Members of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards ahead of the ceremonial welcome in London today

Members of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards ahead of the ceremonial welcome in London today

King Charles III and Japanese Emperor Naruhito at Horse Guards Parade in London today

King Charles III and Japanese Emperor Naruhito at Horse Guards Parade in London today

The King and Queen greet their guests on Horse Guards Parade in London this afternoon

The King and Queen greet their guests on Horse Guards Parade in London this afternoon

King Charles III and Queen Camilla arrive for the ceremonial welcome in London today

King Charles III and Queen Camilla arrive for the ceremonial welcome in London today

The procession arrives at Buckingham Palace today during the Japanese state visit

The procession arrives at Buckingham Palace today during the Japanese state visit 

A gun salute is fired on the day of Japan's Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako's state visit

A gun salute is fired on the day of Japan’s Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako’s state visit

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron and Home Secretary James Cleverly laugh ahead of the ceremonial welcome at Horse Guards Parade in London today

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron and Home Secretary James Cleverly laugh ahead of the ceremonial welcome at Horse Guards Parade in London today

King Charles III and Japanese Emperor Naruhito at Horse Guards Parade in London today

King Charles III and Japanese Emperor Naruhito at Horse Guards Parade in London today

Japan's Emperor Naruhito and King Charles inspect the Guard of Honour, formed of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards with the Band of the Welsh Guards, during a state visit in London today

Japan’s Emperor Naruhito and King Charles inspect the Guard of Honour, formed of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards with the Band of the Welsh Guards, during a state visit in London today 

King Charles and Camilla at the welcome ceremony at Horse Guards Parade in London today

King Charles and Camilla at the welcome ceremony at Horse Guards Parade in London today

Prince William at the welcome ceremony at Horse Guards Parade in London today

Prince William at the welcome ceremony at Horse Guards Parade in London today

King Charles III and Japanese Emperor Naruhito at Horse Guards Parade in London today

King Charles III and Japanese Emperor Naruhito at Horse Guards Parade in London today

King Charles III and Queen Camilla with Emperor Naruhito and his wife Empress Masako today

King Charles III and Queen Camilla with Emperor Naruhito and his wife Empress Masako today

Soldiers from the Coldstream and Irish Guards march towards Horse Guards Parade today

Soldiers from the Coldstream and Irish Guards march towards Horse Guards Parade today

Queen Camilla with Empress Masako of Japan arriving at Buckingham Palace in London today

Queen Camilla with Empress Masako of Japan arriving at Buckingham Palace in London today

King Charles III and Queen Camilla with Emperor Naruhito and his wife Empress Masako today

King Charles III and Queen Camilla with Emperor Naruhito and his wife Empress Masako today

King Charles III arrives at Horse Guards Parade in London for the ceremonial welcome today

King Charles III arrives at Horse Guards Parade in London for the ceremonial welcome today

Soldiers on Horse Guards Parade take part in the ceremonial welcome this afternoon

Soldiers on Horse Guards Parade take part in the ceremonial welcome this afternoon

Queen Camilla arrives at Horse Guards Parade in London for the ceremonial welcome today

Queen Camilla arrives at Horse Guards Parade in London for the ceremonial welcome today

A gun salute is fired on the day of Japan's Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako's state visit

A gun salute is fired on the day of Japan’s Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako’s state visit

King Charles III speaks to Rishi Sunak as he arrives for the ceremonial welcome today

King Charles III speaks to Rishi Sunak as he arrives for the ceremonial welcome today

Grenadier Guards, a Regiment of the Household Division Foot Guards, stand on duty today

Grenadier Guards, a Regiment of the Household Division Foot Guards, stand on duty today

Japan's Emperor Naruhito and Japan's Empress Masako arrive for the welcome today

Japan’s Emperor Naruhito and Japan’s Empress Masako arrive for the welcome today

King Charles III arrives at Horse Guards Parade in London for the ceremonial welcome today

King Charles III arrives at Horse Guards Parade in London for the ceremonial welcome today

King Charles III shakes hands with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at Horse Guards Parade today

King Charles III shakes hands with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at Horse Guards Parade today

People watch the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards march past ahead of today's ceremonial welcome

People watch the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards march past ahead of today’s ceremonial welcome

Prince William greets Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako at their hotel in London today

Prince William greets Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako at their hotel in London today

The royal party and their guests headed inside the palace for a private lunch.

Following the lunch  given by The King, His Majesty will invite the Emperor and Empress to view a special exhibition in the Picture Gallery of items from the Royal Collection relating to Japan.

In the afternoon, the Emperor and Empress will visit Westminster Abbey, where His Majesty will lay a wreath at the Grave of the Unknown Warrior.

Then this evening, the King, accompanied by Camilla and senior members of the Royal Family, will hold a glittering state banquet at Buckingham Palace in his guests’ honour, attended by senior figures from both countries and politicians. Speeches will be made by The King and the Emperor at the start.

Princess Anne will not be present as expected after suffering an accident involving a horse at her Gloucestershire home on Sunday.

A Guard of Honour, found by 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, at Horse Guards Parade today

A Guard of Honour, found by 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, at Horse Guards Parade today

Queen Camilla arrives at Horse Guards Parade in London for the ceremonial welcome today

Queen Camilla arrives at Horse Guards Parade in London for the ceremonial welcome today

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron and Home Secretary James Cleverly laugh ahead of the ceremonial welcome at Horse Guards Parade in London today

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron and Home Secretary James Cleverly laugh ahead of the ceremonial welcome at Horse Guards Parade in London today

King Charles and Camilla at the welcome ceremony at Horse Guards Parade in London today

King Charles and Camilla at the welcome ceremony at Horse Guards Parade in London today

Prince William greets Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako at their hotel in London today

Prince William greets Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako at their hotel in London today

Queen Camilla with Empress Masako of Japan arriving at Buckingham Palace in London today

Queen Camilla with Empress Masako of Japan arriving at Buckingham Palace in London today

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at the ceremonial welcome for the Japanese state visit today

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at the ceremonial welcome for the Japanese state visit today

Queen Camilla arrives at Horse Guards Parade in London for the ceremonial welcome today

Queen Camilla arrives at Horse Guards Parade in London for the ceremonial welcome today

Queen Camilla arrives at Horse Guards Parade in London for the ceremonial welcome today

Queen Camilla arrives at Horse Guards Parade in London for the ceremonial welcome today

A member of the Grenadier Guards stands on duty as people watch from behind barriers today

A member of the Grenadier Guards stands on duty as people watch from behind barriers today

King Charles III speaks to dignitaries as he arrives for the ceremonial welcome today

King Charles III speaks to dignitaries as he arrives for the ceremonial welcome today

Guards line up on the day of Japan's Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako state visit today

Guards line up on the day of Japan’s Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako state visit today

King Charles waits with Queen Camilla for the start of the ceremonial welcome today

King Charles waits with Queen Camilla for the start of the ceremonial welcome today

The ceremonial welcome for the Japanese state visit takes place in London this morning

The ceremonial welcome for the Japanese state visit takes place in London this morning

Prince William greets Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako at their hotel in London today

Prince William greets Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako at their hotel in London today

People watch the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards march past ahead of today's ceremonial welcome

People watch the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards march past ahead of today’s ceremonial welcome

PM Rishi Sunak, Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron and Home Secretary James Cleverly

PM Rishi Sunak, Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron and Home Secretary James Cleverly 

Queen Camilla with Empress Masako of Japan arriving at Buckingham Palace in London today

Queen Camilla with Empress Masako of Japan arriving at Buckingham Palace in London today

Members of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards ahead of the ceremonial welcome in London today

Members of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards ahead of the ceremonial welcome in London today 

Home Secretary James Cleverly, PM Rishi Sunak and Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron today

Home Secretary James Cleverly, PM Rishi Sunak and Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron today

The state visit by Emperor Naruhito, ruler of the Chrysanthemum throne, and Empress Masako comes just days before the UK goes to the polls next week.

There were no incoming state visits at the same time as a general election campaign during Queen Elizabeth II’s 70-year reign.

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

A Palace spokesman said this week’s 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.’

There had been fears the visit could be cancelled entirely in view of the forthcoming General Election.

Members of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards ahead of the ceremonial welcome in London today

Members of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards ahead of the ceremonial welcome in London today

Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron, PM Rishi Sunak and Home Secretary James Cleverly today

Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron, PM Rishi Sunak and Home Secretary James Cleverly today

The ceremonial welcome is being held by King Charles III and Queen Camilla today

The ceremonial welcome is being held by King Charles III and Queen Camilla today

Members of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards ahead of the ceremonial welcome in London today

Members of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards ahead of the ceremonial welcome in London today

King Charles III  shakes hands with Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron this morning

King Charles III  shakes hands with Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron this morning

The Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment ahead of the ceremonial welcome in London today

The Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment ahead of the ceremonial welcome in London today

King Charles and Camilla at the welcome ceremony at Horse Guards Parade in London today

King Charles and Camilla at the welcome ceremony at Horse Guards Parade in London today

People watch the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards march past ahead of today's ceremonial welcome

People watch the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards march past ahead of today’s ceremonial welcome 

Home Secretary James Cleverly adjusts his collar at Horse Guards Parade in London today

Home Secretary James Cleverly adjusts his collar at Horse Guards Parade in London today

The ceremonial welcome for the Japanese state visit takes place in London this morning

The ceremonial welcome for the Japanese state visit takes place in London this morning

Members of the Band of the Welsh Guards march into Horse Guards Parade this morning

Members of the Band of the Welsh Guards march into Horse Guards Parade this morning

Armed police officers pass beneath Union and Japanese flags flying along The Mall today

Armed police officers pass beneath Union and Japanese flags flying along The Mall today

Members of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards ahead of the ceremonial welcome today

Members of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards ahead of the ceremonial welcome today

Members of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards ahead of the ceremonial welcome in London today

Members of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards ahead of the ceremonial welcome in London today

Members of the Welsh Guards outside Buckingham Palace in London this afternoon

Members of the Welsh Guards outside Buckingham Palace in London this afternoon

Home Secretary James Cleverly, PM Rishi Sunak and Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron today

Home Secretary James Cleverly, PM Rishi Sunak and Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron today

But following discussions between palace officials, the Foreign Office and the Cabinet Office it was instead adapted to take account of political sensitivities.

Members of the Royal Family have been forced to shelve a number of forthcoming engagements that could be seen as diverting attention from campaigning or appear to favour one political party ahead of the country going to the polls on July 4.

But this week’s visit going ahead was good news for palace planners, who had been previously forced to postpone an earlier visit by the Japanese rulers in 2020 as a result of the Covid pandemic.

Missing elements of the visit 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.

Members of the Band of the Welsh Guards march into Horse Guards Parade this morning

Members of the Band of the Welsh Guards march into Horse Guards Parade this morning

Buckingham Palace is pictured today on the first day of a three-day Japanese State Visit

Buckingham Palace is pictured today on the first day of a three-day Japanese State Visit 

Soldiers from the Coldstream and Irish Guards march towards Horse Guards Parade today

Soldiers from the Coldstream and Irish Guards march towards Horse Guards Parade today

King Charles III speaks to dignitaries ahead of the ceremonial welcome in London today

King Charles III speaks to dignitaries ahead of the ceremonial welcome in London today

Crowds are seen on the flag-lined Mall ahead of the ceremonial start of the state visit today

Crowds are seen on the flag-lined Mall ahead of the ceremonial start of the state visit today

A guard walks as people gather on The Mall on the day of the Japanese state visit this morning

A guard walks as people gather on The Mall on the day of the Japanese state visit this morning

Home Secretary James Cleverly, PM Rishi Sunak and Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron today

Home Secretary James Cleverly, PM Rishi Sunak and Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron today

The shoes of the members of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards in London this morning

The shoes of the members of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards in London this morning

The ceremonial welcome for the Japanese state visit takes place in London this morning

The ceremonial welcome for the Japanese state visit takes place in London this morning

Home Secretary James Cleverly, PM Rishi Sunak and Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron today

Home Secretary James Cleverly, PM Rishi Sunak and Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron today

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer are expected to take a break from the campaign trail to attend the state banquet.

A Japanese Foreign Ministry official said the emperor and empress’s visit would not be a political one and it was hoped it would forge ‘friendly relations across generations’ between Japan’s imperial family and the British royal family.

The dinner, in the ballroom of the Palace, will see Mr Sunak and Sir Keir dress in white tie, process in and take their seats around the horseshoe-shaped table to hear speeches and toasts by Charles and the emperor.

A prime minister usually sits near the head of the table, with the leader of the opposition positioned further down.

State visits are planned by the Foreign Office, in consultation with the Palace.

William, who is president of the Football Association, is expected to be at the state banquet but it clashes with England’s last group game in the Euro 2024 tournament.

The ceremonial welcome for the Japanese state visit takes place in London this morning

The ceremonial welcome for the Japanese state visit takes place in London this morning

Police officers ride horses as they pass beneath Union and Japanese flags along The Mall today

Police officers ride horses as they pass beneath Union and Japanese flags along The Mall today

Home Secretary James Cleverly, PM Rishi Sunak and Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron today

Home Secretary James Cleverly, PM Rishi Sunak and Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron today

Union and Japanese flags fly along The Mall in London today ahead of the Japanese state visit

Union and Japanese flags fly along The Mall in London today ahead of the Japanese state visit 

Crowds are seen on the flag-lined Mall ahead of the ceremonial start of the state visit today

Crowds are seen on the flag-lined Mall ahead of the ceremonial start of the state visit today

Home Secretary James Cleverly, PM Rishi Sunak and Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron today

Home Secretary James Cleverly, PM Rishi Sunak and Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron today

Buckingham Palace is pictured today on the first day of a three-day Japanese State Visit

Buckingham Palace is pictured today on the first day of a three-day Japanese State Visit 

The Japanese visitors will spend seven days in the UK after arriving at Stansted Airport on Saturday to carry out private engagements before the official state visit.

The key event in the royal calendar is Charles’s first incoming state visit since his cancer diagnosis.

The Emperor and Empress will also undertake a number of private engagements including a visit to Oxford University, where they both studied.

They will also visit St George’s Chapel at Windsor to lay a wreath on the tomb of the late Queen Elizabeth II.

The chapel, which is the home of the Order of The Garter, displays the ‘garter banner’ belonging to the Emperor’s father, Emperor Emeritus Akihito, who abdicated in 2019.

The King and Queen will formally bid farewell to their guests on Thursday.

Soldiers rehearse their manoeuvres on The Mall yesterday ahead of the Japanese state visit

Soldiers rehearse their manoeuvres on The Mall yesterday ahead of the Japanese state visit 

A rehearsal in London yesterday for the ceremonial welcome for the Japanese state visit

A rehearsal in London yesterday for the ceremonial welcome for the Japanese state visit

A guard collapses to the ground yesterday during a rehearsal on The Mall for the state visit

A guard collapses to the ground yesterday during a rehearsal on The Mall for the state visit

Emperor Naruhito at Japan House in London on Sunday ahead of the state visit's official start

Emperor Naruhito at Japan House in London on Sunday ahead of the state visit’s official start 

Princess Anne at Royal Ascot last Thursday. She is in hospital after being injured by a horse

Princess Anne at Royal Ascot last Thursday. She is in hospital after being injured by a horse

Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence at Southmead Hospital in Bristol today to visit his wife Anne

Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence at Southmead Hospital in Bristol today to visit his wife Anne

Southmead Hospital in Bristol, pictured yesterday, which is where Anne is being treated

Southmead Hospital in Bristol, pictured yesterday, which is where Anne is being treated

The state visit is being seen as hugely important for Anglo-Japanese diplomatic, trade and cultural relations at a crucial time for the UK, particularly economically.

Anne will miss the state banquet after suffering minor injuries to her head and concussion when she was reportedly kicked by a horse on her Gatcombe Park estate.

The Princess Royal, a skilled horsewoman who competed in the 1976 Montreal Olympics, was walking on her Gloucestershire estate on Sunday evening when the incident happened.

After being given medical care at the scene, she was taken to Southmead Hospital in Bristol by road for tests, treatment and observation.

The 73-year-old will miss several engagements this week, including an overseas tour to Canada which was due to start this weekend.

Her accident is the latest health upset to the hit the Royal Family this year, with the King and Kate both being diagnosed with and undergoing treatment for cancer, and Sarah, Duchess of York, having skin cancer.

***
Read more at DailyMail.co.uk