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photograph of current display in the Grand Vestibule

A display highlighting the interaction between the monarchy and the wider world

An Historic Agreement with Japan

In 1858, Japan and Britain signed a Treaty of Amity and Commerce, reopening diplomatic relations for the first time in almost 250 years. Until this time, Japan had maintained a policy of limited contact with the outside world, trading only with the Dutch and Chinese. Now, seven ports and towns would gradually open to British trade, and the British were allowed to send a diplomatic agent to reside in Edo (now Tokyo).

To mark the new agreement, Shogun Tokugawa Iemochi sent Queen Victoria a lavish gift of weapons, lacquered boxes and a suit of armour. This dispatch box and the two round incense boxes formed part of a larger matching set of shelves, cosmetic boxes and stationery equipment traditionally prepared as part of a bride’s wedding trousseau.