April State Visits: Spain to Japan




If you're looking for a word to sum up the State Visit of King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia of Spain to Japan then elegant might just cover it. This was a streamlined visit and a major moment for the royal couple who found their agenda somewhat truncated in 2016 because of the ongoing political situation in their country. Their State Visit diary was back on ice but now the thaw's set in, everything's looking rather rosy. This was a streamlined event - the couple, particularly Felipe, have a lot to pack in now that they're back in full royal swing - but ticked all those State Visit boxes we've come to expect. So, relax, you are definitely getting a tiara. Here's the Spanish State Visit to Japan in all its chicness.




King Felipe and Queen Letizia left Madrid on April 3rd after a short farewell ceremony at the airport. They arrived in Japan on April 4th and immediately shared their bird's eye view of the start of a State Visit on social media. It's a new take on walking down plane steps.




The official welcome took place at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo as King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia were welcomed to Japan by Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko. It was all very grand and really rather friendly as well as the royals exchanged handshakes and kisses. But State Visits also have their formal pattern to follow and so the hosts and their visitors took part in a ceremonial event which included both national anthems being played and an inspection of the guard by King Felipe.




Inside, there were more smiles as Felipe and Letizia chatted with the Emperor and Empress and posed for photographs and then held private meetings. Then it was time for a bit of technology for the King and Queen of Spain.



Felipe and Letizia headed to the Miraikan Museum where they met Japan's first astronaut, Mamoru Mohri, and a robot.  Letizia wasn't so sure but Felipe just dived straight on in there - you've got to love royals shaking hands with a robot.  The visit also included a meeting with Japanese and Spanish scientists to find out about current projects and a chat with Nobel prize winner, physicist Takaaki Kajita.






Part two of day one then saw Felipe and Letizia at the Spanish Embassy in Tokyo where they met members of the Spanish and Japanese communities. And then it was time for sparkles. 






The State Banquet took place at the Imperial Palace with Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko joined by their family for this gala event. In his speech, King Felipe talked about the similar aspirations of Japan and Spain and how the coming year marks the 150th anniversary of the beginning of bilateral relations between the countries. 




Day two of the official visit saw Felipe and Letizia go in different directions.  The King of Spain took part in a working breakfast with Japanese business leaders. He also attended the Spanish Japanese Bilateral Committee of Business Co-operation where he gave another speech, this time focusing on increased links between companies in both countries.  Felipe then went on to a meeting with Japenese experts in Spanish culture and previous winners of the Prince of Asturias Prize. 



Queen Letizia travelled to Keio University where she spoke to scientists working in research for treatment for cancer and rare diseases. The Queen of Spain has a particular interest in work in this area and has carried out many high profile engagements in the area.







The King and Queen of Spain were reunited in the evening when they were guests of honour at the Akasaka Palace, invited for a spot of dinner with the Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, and his wife.  But Felipe had to sing for his supper - before anyone got anywhere near the starters, there was the small matter of overseeing the signing of agreements between the two countries in a range of areas including sport and tourism. It made the wait for pudding all the more worthwhile.





Day three was the day that Felipe and Letizia took the train. The royal couple arrived at Tokyo Central Station to a huge reception and then hopped on board the high speed train, alongside the Emperor and Empress of Japan, for the trip to Shizuoka where the State Visit was due to end.



First stop on this last day was the Centre for the Prevention of Natural Catastrophes where they heard about ongoing work to offer protection from earthquakes. The royals then travelled to the Fugetsuro Complex for a spot of history involving another Spanish king called Felipe. This one was number three in the list and in 1611 he presented a clock to Japan in thanks for the country's help in rescuing the crew of a Spanish galleon called the San Francisco which was wrecked near Tokyo that year. 




After the last official meal of the State Visit - a lunch given by the Emperor and Empress - the royal visitors were treated to a display of traditional dance before the trip came to an end. There was an official farewell ceremony and then Felipe and Letizia began the long flight back home to Madrid. This one can be put firmly in the category marked success and now they'll be looking ahead to another high profile event - the State Visit to the UK in June.

Photo credit: casareal Twitter

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