Trip down memory lane for Japan's emperor and wife on final day of UK visit

OXFORD, England (Reuters) - Japan's Emperor Naruhito and his wife took a trip down memory lane on Friday, the final day of their week-long stay in Britain, with a visit to the medieval university city of Oxford where they both studied in the 1980s.

The imperial couple's formal state visit concluded on Thursday with a goodbye from King Charles and Queen Camilla at Buckingham Palace, but they squeezed in a trip to Oxford before flying home.

The 64-year-old emperor attended Oxford's Merton College in 1983-1986, while his wife Empress Masako, 60, studied international relations in the late 1980s down the road at Balliol College.

Tracing its history back to 1096, the University of Oxford is the oldest in the English-speaking world, famous as a prestigious seat of learning which has educated dozens of British prime ministers including the current one, Rishi Sunak.

At Balliol, Naruhito and Masako met Oxford University's chancellor Chris Patten and the master of the college, Helen Ghosh, as well-wishers waved Japanese and British flags.

Naruhito was due later to plant a cherry tree at Merton College, in what will be the final part of a trip which has been focused on celebrating the cultural, business and military ties between Japan and Britain.

Before his trip, Naruhito had said he was looking forward to visiting Oxford with his wife as it would be the first time they would spend time there together in the city with its winding lanes and honey-coloured gothic spires.

Both had a memorable time at Oxford, the emperor said, with his wife particularly fond of the city's majestic buildings and beautiful gardens.

(Reporting by Sarah Young; Editing by Gareth Jones)