The Japanese Emperor and his Royal Friends
At big life events, like marriage, funerals, or an enthronement ceremony, you really get to see who your true friends are. The Japanese emperor, Naruhito, appears to have a wide circle of international royalty surrounding him when it really matters.
Royalty and state leaders from all over the world attended the enthronement of Naruhito and his wife, empress Masako, in October 2019. There were approximately 2,000 guests from 180 different countries.
The traditional Japanese ceremony is called Sokeuirei-Seiden-no-Gi. It takes place in the imperial palace in Tokyo and happens only once in the lifetime of an emperor. The last Sokeuirei-Seiden-no-Gi before Naruhito's was in 1990 with his father Akihito.
The ceremony lasts only 30 minutes, but people fly from all over the world to see it. Here's Charles, the Prince of Wales, sitting next to Princess Mary of Denmark.
And here's Myanmar's leader Aung San Suu Ky, wearing a traditional dress and her characteristic hairdo with flowers.
Other guests were King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck of Bhutan and his beautiful wife, Queen Jetsun Pema. The couple got married in 2011. Jetsun Pema, born in 1990, is the youngest queen in the world.
The emperor and his family obviously stole the show on this historic occasion, but the entrance of the imperial premises sometimes seemed like a runway.
King Carl Gustaf XVI and Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden could not miss the festivities. The Princess was wearing a daring blue ensemble.
As the eldest child of King Carl, Victoria is the heir apparent to the Swedish throne. She met Naruhito for the first time in 2005 when she went to Japan to officially open an IKEA store there.
Another friendly Scandinavian royal is Prince Haakon Magnus of Norway. His wife, Princess Mette-Marit, unfortunately did not accompany him to Japan.
Rodrigo Roa Duterte, President of the Philippines, was also present with his wife Honeylet Avanceña. The former beauty queen is now a businesswoman leading 11 Mister Donut shops.
King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia of Spain are eyecatchers among the friends of Emperor Naruhito. Letizia wore a flowery gown from the Spanish designer Matilde Cano.
This royal couple from The Netherlands has warm connections with many Asian dynasties. Maxima, of Argeninian and common background, blends perfectly into high society with gowns and evocative hats like this one.
Among the honorable guests was also Sheikh Tamim, the Emir of Qatar. He is one of the 10 richests royals in the world, with a net worth of 1.2 billion.
The entire Japanese imperial family is involved in the ancient ritual. Crown Prince Akishino is walking up front, with his wife Kiko and his daughters Mako and Kako behind him. They still have to change for the ceremony.
Crown Princess Kiko participates in a traditional kimono. She and Akishino would be next in line if Naruhito was to cease being emperor.
Princess Mako was born in 1991 and Princess Kako in 1994. The young princesses often participate in official visits and ceremonies.
The Princesses stand by as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan greets the Emperor.
The Prime Minister's congratulations are followed by three rounds of Banzai, to wish the Emperor a long life.
With all this lasting only half an hour, and their guests far away from the State Room where the ritual happens, it is only logical that the imperial couple invites their friends to dinner and drinks afterwards.
The Court Banquet is also called the Kyo-en-no-gi. Among the many guests are also world leaders like former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao on behalf of the U.S., Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan, South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon, and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk and Queen Jetsun Pema of Bhutan wore their traditional evening attire.
Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden is the first to sport a royal tiara. She is with her father, Carl Gustaf XVI, the King of Sweden.
Hassanal Bolkiah, the King of Brunei, also attends the Kyo-en-no-gi in the evening.
At what the Daily Mail called 'the Banzai Banquet,' Queen Maxima of The Netherlands appeared in a stunning red gown with a diamond tiara. Dutch designer Jan Taminiau, one of Maxima's favourites, made the dress.
Queen Letizia's evening dress was designed by Carolina Herrera. The Spanish royal made a stunning impression.
The monarchs of Bhutan, Spain, The Netherlands, and the Scandinavian countries appear to be particularly fond of the Japanese royals. Here King Jigme and Queen Jetsun congratulate the new Emperor and Empress.
Empress Masako has suffered from depression and often remained behind the screens during official events. Queen Maxima has always been very close to her. In fact, her visit to Japan in 2014 was the first occasion in 5 years that Masako attended.
Queen Letizia of Spain made what 'Hola' calls "one of the big moments of the evening." She greeted Empress Masako with a big hug.
As it turns out, the Emperor and Empress of Japan have a group of friends that they can really count on.