Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako of Japan arrive in UK ahead of state visit

Japan’s Emperor Naruhito and his wife Empress Masako have arrived in the UK ahead of their official state visit.

The smiling couple landed to sunshine at Stansted Airport in Essex on Saturday afternoon.

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

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer are both set to attend the state banquet at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday evening.

Emperor Naruhito UK state visit
The couple arrived to sunshine (Chris Radurn/PA)

The banquet takes place the day before Mr Sunak and Sir Keir face one another in a head-to-head TV debate on June 26 – the last of the election campaign.

Emperor Naruhito, ruler of the Chrysanthemum throne, and his wife will spend seven days in the UK in total, carrying out private engagements before the official state visit begins on June 25.