Japanese royals hosted by King Charles & Queen Camilla: Why was Empress Masako wearing a mask?

King Charles and Queen Camilla are hosting the Japanese royals, but the empress has been spotted wearing a mask—here's why.

Japanese Emperor Naruhito wife empress Masako King Charles Queen Camilla Japanese state visit
© Max Mumby/Indigo / Contributeur
Japanese Emperor Naruhito wife empress Masako King Charles Queen Camilla Japanese state visit

It's an exciting summer for the Royal Family. With the Trooping of Colour ceremony that saw Kate Middleton make a heartwarming comeback, to Royal Ascot, and now the Japanese state visit.

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Japanese Emperor Naruhito and his wife Empress Masako are in the UK for a 3-day visit, and the Buckingham Palace have pulled out all the stops for the royal couple. They came in on Tuesday, 25 June, and were greeted by both the Head of State, and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who has recently been in the spotlight for his election campaign.

A personal state visit

Given the current circumstances, with the general elections to take place in a matter of days, a Palace spokesperson has said that programme had been 'slightly adapted'. As quoted by The Standard, they said:

As a general principle, it has of course been adapted as a result of the current pre-election period of sensitivity.

A Japanese Foreign ministry official also reiterated that the visit is not a political one, and rather focuses on strengthening the relations between the two royal families.

Despite their effort to keep the elections as the priority, one cannot help but notice that all eyes are on King Charles, Queen Camilla, and their Japanese counterparts. In fact, one move by the Japanese empress has everyone wondering the same thing.

Empress Masako wearing a mask

On 25 June, following the ceremonial welcome at Horse Guards Parade, Queen Camilla and Empress Masako headed to Buckingham Palace on a horse-drawn carriage. The Japanese royal was seen wearing a mask while on the carriage. In post-pandemic UK, where masks have become a thing of the past, many were left wondering why she decided to wear one.

There are plenty of reasons why people choose to wear a mask. In places like Japan and South Korea, wearing a mask when you're sick from the flu or have a cold is very common. This was not the case for the Japanese Empress though. According to People, she wore a mask because she is allergic to horses! Her white mask, which perfectly matched her elegant outfit, was merely a means of protection from having a reaction to the fur of the four-legged animal.

Indeed, she took it off as soon as she reached the palace for lunch.

Horse allergies in the Royal Family

The Japanese royal is not the only one who has an allergic reaction to horses. Within the British Royal Family itself, there is a beloved family member who is known to have the same allergy.

It's none other than Kate Middleton.

In 2009, Kate Middleton revealed to author Kathy Lette that she was allergic to horses, when asked why she didn't play polo. However, it has been reported that the Princess was trying to overcome her allergies in order to play polo a few years ago. Clarisa Ru, wife of Santa Barbara Polo Club president Wesley Ru, told People in 2011 that she spoke to Kate who said she's been 'riding horses for a while' and that the Princess told her:

I'm actually allergic to them, but the more time one spends with them the less allergic you become.

Kate may not be as allergic as the empress is to horses as she is often seen on carriages and never wears a mask. She often attends races and also polo matches, and has never been pictured having a severe reaction either.

Read more:

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Sources used:

Sky News: Japanese state visit begins - with empress taking precautions for her allergy

The Standard: Japanese Emperor and Empress hosted by King as three-day UK state visit begins

People: The Surprising Reason Japan's Empress Wore a Face Mask During Horse-Drawn Carriage Ride with British Royals

Hello!: Kate Middleton could finally ride horses with her and Prince William's children

Express: Kate Middleton health: The Duchess' severe allergy - symptoms can start 'within minutes'

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