When Queen Elizabeth II visited Japan for the first time in May 1975, she caused quite a sensation. Wherever she went, her every move attracted attention.
During her visit to a state guest house, the queen took her shoes off while she padded around on tatami mat floors. The British media reported this was the first time the monarch was seen in stocking feet in public. Photos from that time show her beautiful feet.
Much liked by the Japanese people, Queen Elizabeth is celebrating the Diamond Jubilee of her accession to the throne this year. I learned from a BBC program that on the night of the death of her father, King George VI, in 1952, Elizabeth was staying at the Treetops Hotel, a treehouse built atop a massive old tree in Kenya. She came to be known as the “princess who climbed a tree and came down a queen,” and has remained the face of Britain ever since.
By the time of her coronation in 1953, her country had seen better days. She noted in her coronation message: “I am sure that this, my coronation, is not the symbol of a power and a splendor that are gone, but a declaration of our hopes for the future.”
Gone were the days when the sun never set on the British Empire. Its decline was all too obvious, and the term “British disease” was coined during the subsequent economic stagnation. And then, there were problems within the royal family, too. The queen has come a long way, and I am sure she is feeling it very much now.
Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko are currently in Britain to attend the queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations. Akihito was crown prince when he attended her coronation 59 years ago. There are deep ties between the British royal family and the Japanese imperial family. The emperor underwent heart surgery not long ago, but he insisted on being present for the Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
When Akihito was in London for Elizabeth’s coronation in 1953, Prime Minister Winston Churchill gave a welcoming speech, in which he reportedly said he was convinced that the Japanese crown prince would hold a friendship to Britain.
I am sure the present feelings of the emperor and the empress will reach the queen and the British people. There are certain things that even time cannot erode.
--The Asahi Shimbun, May 18
* * *
Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a popular daily column that takes up a wide range of topics, including culture, arts and social trends and developments. Written by veteran Asahi Shimbun writers, the column provides useful perspectives on and insights into contemporary Japan and its culture.
- « Prev
- Next »