Prince and Princess Akishino Visiting Austria
Japan’s Prince Akishino met yesterday with Austrian President Heinz Fischer at the Hofburg Imperial Palace, the seat of the presidency in Vienna, at the start of a four-day visit to Austria. Princess Akishino (informally Princess Kiko) is accompanying her husband on a two-week tour of Europe that also includes Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania. The prince and princess will return to Japan on May 23 after a brief stopover in Paris.
During their stay in Austria, Prince and Princess Akishino will visit the Japanese school in Vienna, the former home of classical composer Joseph Haydn, and Schoenbrunn summer palace as well as other cultural sights in and around the capital. The trip to Austria is probably an especially pleasant experience for Princess Akishino, as she attended school in Vienna for several years, due to her father’s work, and is still in contact with her old friends there.
Presently, Prince and Princess Akishino are travelling without their three children. But in summer 2006, their eldest daughter, Princess Mako, went to Austria for a two-week homestay at the home of her mother’s friends in the suburbs of Vienna. The trip took place during her summer recess. When the princess slightly bowed to people around her at Narita airport near Tokyo on August 3, 2006, before heading for a Lufthansa flight, everybody could see that the then fourteen-year-old thought that she was embarking for a rather scary enterprise. (Photo) Who could have blamed her? It was her first solo overseas trip, she was going to a foreign country and unknown people, all by herself.
However, her friendly Austrian host and hostess were soon successful in their efforts to make their young guest feel at ease. The princess enjoyed the – for her – rather uncommon liberty of visiting museums and of strolling around the woods near Vienna, without raising too much public attention. She also rode horses and cooked at her hosts’ residence. Most photos of her stay in Austria show her with a broad smile that fit the usually serious-looking princess very well. (Photo) The new environment, far away from home, obviously granted this happy teenager a short space of time in which she could feel free from the heavy responsibility of always having to prove herself worthy of being an imperial princess. Maybe this stay made her feel less sorry for the Japanese law that strips royal females of their status once they marry, maybe it made her even cherish this prospect of becoming a commoner some day in the future.
At least, that is what comes to mind when taking a look at the princess’ face at Narita airport when she was arriving back home (Photo): the smile was gone. Everything was back to normal…
More photos of Princess Mako’s trip to Austria in 2006 are to be found in this TRF thread.
Watch a video of Prince and Princess Akishino in Austria.Filed under Japanese Royals
Tagged Austria, Official Visit, President Fischer, Prince Akishino, Princess Kiko, Princess Mako.