From the archives: crown prince and cadets

Jenny Seeman

In April, 1953, Crown Prince Akihito began his first overseas tour from Japan. He was just 19 years old and was on his way to represent his father, the Emperor, at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth in London, England.

The trip through several countries included a tour by train across Canada and began with a stay in Victoria. During the visit, the crown prince came to Canadian Services College, Royal Roads to review the cadets.

Crown Prince Akihito greeting officers at Royal Roads. The Canadian officials are wearing black armbands in mourning for the death of King George VI. The armbands were removed before the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in June, 1953.

While in Victoria, he stayed with Lieutenant-Governor Clarence Wallace at Government House. At a dinner on his arrival, three cadets were chosen from the college to attend. Cadet Wing Commander Jim Standon represented the navy, Cadet Flight Leader Jeff Upton of Cartier Flight represented the army, and Cadet Flight Leader Cliff Shook of Champlain Flight represented the air force. The same cadets were given the honour of escorting the crown prince around the grounds when he visited Royal Roads on Sunday, April 12, 1953.

Crown Prince Akihito of Japan touring the gardens with Cadets at Canadian Services College, Royal Roads

Throughout the trip, he was accompanied by an entourage of 20 Japanese newspaper reporters who were eagerly reporting every experience back to Japan. The cherry blossoms were in full bloom at Royal Roads, which drew positive remarks from the visitors. 

Crown Prince Akihito became Emperor of Japan in January, 1989. Under the new constitution of Japan created in 1947, Akihito was the first to be enthroned without any claim to divine power and with a purely ceremonial role. Also for the first time in Japanese history, the emperor will abdicate on 30 April, 2019 due to failing health and his eldest son, Crown Prince Naruhito will take his place.

For information about the archives at Royal Roads University, contact Jenny Seeman, ext 4122.