Crown Prince Naruhito in Vietnam Alone

  February 12, 2009 at 1:47 pm by

Prince Naruhito in Vietnam

Click the image to see the photo at ANP Beeldbank

Crown Prince Naruhito of Japan is presently visiting Vietnam. He left Tokyo on the 9th February and will stay in Vietnam until the 15th. The prince is going to attend welcoming ceremonies and meet with top officials in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi before heading down to the ancient capital of Hue, the southern business center of Ho Chi Minh City and the Mekong River. The heir to the Japanese throne, who studied water travel and commerce when he was in college, is looking forward to exploring the waterways of Vietnam during his visit.

Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako

Click the image to see the photo at GDP Royalblog.nl

His wife, Crown Princess Masako, is not accompanying him. The former diplomat and Harvard-graduate has been suffering from a stress-induced illness, called “adjustment disorder”, since 2004. Rumours have it that the princess could no longer bear the constant pressure that was upon her because she did not bear a male heir for the throne. (The couple’s only child, princess Aiko, was born in 2001 after eight years of childless marriage.) But this was probably not the only reason for the breakdown of the princess: when his wife fell ill prince Naruhito accused in a famous press conference unnamed persons in the imperial household of having tried to “nullify her character and her career”.

However, the crown princess has been said to be recovering from her illness slowly but surely. Last autumn, on the 10th November, she made her first public appearance after 5 years on an official occasion when king Juan Carlos and queen Sofia of Spain came to Japan for a visit (photos). Shortly before that, she had hosted a dinner for prince Charles and the duchess of Cornwall (photos).

Although the princess seems to feel much better at present and looks quite cheerful on the photos that have recently been published the palace officials said that the schedule of the Vietnam trip would still be too stressful for her.

This may well be so but if one knows the background one may ask if that is really the whole story: Independent journalists have found out that in the nineties, when the princess was still in good health, she and her husband were sometimes, much against their inclination, obliged to spend weeks and weeks mainly with walking their dogs and reading good books etc. as the only official duties that were assigned to them consisted of greeting the volunteers who were working in the imperial garden… The crown prince and his wife who have both studied at Oxford are not very popular with strict traditionalists in Japan as they have ideas of their own about the future of the Japanese monarchy. They are resolved to “open it up” and to bring the imperial family – that is traditionally “okami”, “high up”, removed from normal life – closer to the people. So, it may well be asked if the sole reason for the crown princess’s staying at home is her health or if there is still somebody behind the scenes trying to teach the former diplomat traditional female modesty?

Filed under Japanese Royals
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