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Old 11-25-2008, 11:02 AM
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Has princess Kiko been badly treated?

Jia, the first thing I have to say on this subject is that I have no “hard” proof for what I am saying. There is only a whole lot of small incidents and expressions of faces that I interpret, and, I must say that I am personally sure that I am right – also because I am famous among my friends for being able to explain the motives and foretell the actions of people that I have never personally met, that have only been described to me by others. And although all the information I get about these people comes from my friends I sometimes understand them better than my friends who have met them in person a lot of times. I just know by experience that this is often the case and have come to trust my impressions. But, of course, I cannot and would not expect you to just believe it because I am saying it. I might be wrong, and I am just sharing my guesswork and have no farther pretensions.

You have probably read the first post I have written concerning this question as you mention the Thailand affair. (Bye the bye: I generally agree that a single affair is not necessarily the ruin of every happy marriage.) I will not repeat what I have written there. (For everybody who is interested see here: http://www.theroyalforums.com/forums/showpost.php?p=802061&postcount=13)

But I will add here a few things more that recently have strengthened my conviction of the Akishino-marriage being presently a very unhappy one:

1. We probably all remember the broad smile Kiko showed the world when she left the hospital with newly born Hisahito, and also shortly afterwards, on occasion of his being presented at the shrine. At that time, it was also remarkable how she was trying to meet her husband´s look and share the smiling joy with him. (But already then: I did not notice an instant of her husband returning her look. He proudly watched his son but never his wife.)
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Now, two years later, this brilliant smile, the trying to contact her husband is gone. Her smile is rather frozen and she interacts nearly exclusively with her son on whom she remains concentrated. But there is never a proud look being exchanged between the parents that could be compared (for example) with the look between Naruhito and Masako, accompanying Aiko on her first day in school. http://www.daylife.com/photo/0bEO6C07lO6ds/aiko_%2B__primary_school

If I watch, for example, the film from the 3rd of May on this page http://www.dai2ntv.jp/common/misc/kochi2/nikoniko/index.html (The icon is little Hisahito with a bit of a white dog.) I receive the impression that the only fairly happy person in it is (fortunately) the innocent little one. Kiko is forcing a smile, Akishino looks rather bored and the daughters downright depressed. Just my impression, of course, and, of course, they are trying to make it look happy but I just do not believe it.

My interpretation is the following: Kiko had hoped that she would get her husband´s attention and admiration back if she gave him what probably was (and is) his highest ambition: to stop being only the little brother and the “second one”. More than that: she did not only hope to get it but was sure of it. The only thing she feared was that there might still go something wrong with the pregnancy. And when everything did go well she was sure she had finally made it and won her husband´s love back: thence her happy smile. Now, now, now, very soon the long expected miracle would manifest… But after a time she had to find out what everybody with a bit of life experience knows (at least when another is concerned…): having another child cannot save a marriage, and if this child is heir to the world´s most ancient throne or not makes no difference whatsoever in the matter.

And now, it seems to me, Kiko has given up and decided to put up with what she has, her position, in short: the mere APPEARANCE of having everything desirable. But I do not think that she will ever be able to forgive her husband, and I am afraid that this resentment will, in the long run, poison her once so soft and gentle soul.
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Old 11-25-2008, 11:09 AM
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2. The second instance is what prince and princess Akishino said on their first press conference after Hisahito´s birth. (see: http://www.kunaicho.go.jp/akishino/akishino-kaiken-h18-01-e.html) They were being asked about how they had dealt with the frightening situation of being confronted with the medical complication of “placenta previa”. Now it is, of course, very difficult to extract any real information from a press conference, and even more from a press conference of Japanese imperials because there are so many things that are just said because you are supposed to say that, even if it is very far from the truth.

But in this case the couple had obviously not come to an agreement concerning which version of the facts should be presented to the public. The princess explained in much detail how her husband had supported her, had eased her fears and had explained to her the medical facts of the matter, and how she was being grateful for his support and that given by the emperor and the empress. The prince, in his turn, had said: "Being diagnosed with partial placenta previa forced Her Highness to enter hospital earlier than usual but given that medical care has advanced considerably since our last child, I don't think we were overly concerned about her condition." It seems to me that here he is probably telling us the truth about his own state of mind but not about his wife´s. I am confirmed in this belief by the fact that the princess comes back to this theme when they have seemingly done with it and are already answering to the next question. To me it seems that she is trying to get across that things were not so easy for her as her husband wants to make them appear - but he insists on his view of the matter:

HIH Princess Akishino
(Turning toward His Highness) I forgot to mention one thing when I was asked about how I felt when I found out about the placenta previa. May I now say a few words? (His Highness nods in assent so Her Highness starts to speak again.)
When I was diagnosed with placenta previa, I realized that even though I had experienced two births before, all I knew about the various concerns and risks associated with pregnancy and childbirth was limited to information I had picked up from popular books on medicine. We learned from our doctors that placenta previa requires the patient to stay in bed for close observation for any changes in physical condition; that the mother and the child are exposed to certain risks even if the mother remains in bed; and that the risks have been greatly reduced thanks to modern medical advances. I paid attention to this throughout the rest of my pregnancy.
HIH Prince Akishino
As I mentioned earlier, I believe that Her Highness was reassured by this knowledge and as a result and was relatively free from undue worry.

I personally think that the truth of the matter is that the prince said what he actually believed because he WANTED to believe it: I think that he does not want to be molested by his wife´s pains or fears, and as it would sound too evil if he would express it in this blunt way (even to himself) he just chooses to believe that his wife is just fine without him and does not need his help. (He would absolutely not be the first husband in history acting in this way…)

And Kiko described things in the way how she would have wanted them to have been. She probably knows better but, anyway, there is nothing she could gain by blaming her husband in public.

Another interesting instance is the fact that Kako was obviously very worried about her mother´s condition. She tried to ease her fears by passing a lot of time with her and by busying herself with making toys of felt cloth for the new baby. But when the prince is asked about what his younger daughter has been making he only knows that she has been doing something but is at a loss to say what it has been (handicraft) and for what purpose (a toy for the baby) and has to refer to his wife for the answers.

IF he has really been considerate of his wife´s feelings in this frightening situation (which I do not believe although the princess affirms it) it is, at least, clear that he has not taken the trouble to show this sort of attention to his younger daughter... (I admit that here I am sympathizing a lot with little Kako because when I myself was eight years my mother was in hospital with a tubal pregnancy - of course, I was trying to be a good girl and to not cause still more trouble to my parents but I remember how scared I was and how full of fear that my mother might die. Naturally, nobody had told me, a child, that this could happen but I sensed the danger. I think, every child feels it when the mother is in danger. - Fortunately, mine survived. )

3. The third instance – which would mean nothing in itself but is gaining some weight by the context of other suspicious circumstances – is the fact that when the Akishino family went lately to see the exhibition “Empress and her children” the father of the family was busy elsewhere. This is especially striking if you compare it with the family of the crown prince attending the exhibition: we constantly see Naruhito very animatedly explaining some thing or other to his daughter - which in this case makes much sense, not because it is traditionally the man and father who should do the talking , but because in this case Naruhito is the only one who can give the background information, because it is he on these photos and it is his childhood that is displayed. In this situation, he is the expert and if he denied to give the necessary explanations to his wife and daughter there would be nobody who could do it in his stead.

His brother, on the other hand, does not think it important to be there for his family, at least at this opportunity, and to answer their questions. And in a way I am not surprised of it because I do not have the impression that he enjoys being with his family very much. What I think is that he has never really succeeded in emotionally growing up which means that he always wants the others to entertain and amuse him and to attend to his needs and that he cannot enjoy being there for others and taking responsibility for them. In a way, it is maybe even tragic because an emotionally grown up father (or mother) does not take care of his children because it is his duty (well, sometimes maybe… ) but because he enjoys doing it, because he enjoys to give, to care and to protect. And Fumihito, for whatever reason, has never reached this level of maturity. Maybe he sometimes even tries to do his duty but for him it is simply no fun at all.
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Old 11-25-2008, 04:33 PM
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Ah...you're a true intuitive. My husband often asks my opinion too because I'm able to "read" situations.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChiaraC View Post
Jia, the first thing I have to say on this subject is that I have no “hard” proof for what I am saying. There is only a whole lot of small incidents and expressions of faces that I interpret, and, I must say that I am personally sure that I am right – also because I am famous among my friends for being able to explain the motives and foretell the actions of people that I have never personally met, that have only been described to me by others. And although all the information I get about these people comes from my friends I sometimes understand them better than my friends who have met them in person a lot of times. I just know by experience that this is often the case and have come to trust my impressions. But, of course, I cannot and would not expect you to just believe it because I am saying it. I might be wrong, and I am just sharing my guesswork and have no farther pretensions.
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Old 11-25-2008, 07:30 PM
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I have found ChiaraC's posts about the relationship between Prince Akishino and Princess Kiko insightful. As I have noted on multiple occasions, Japan is one of the most advanced countries from the technological standpoint, but it seems to be somewhat backward from the standpoint of mentality. I dare to say that Japanese feudal past is still evident in everyday Japanese life. Thus, the relationships between Prince Akishino and his wife is largely governed by the norms that are culturally acceptable in the Japanese society at large. Similar to many Asian marriages, Japanese marriages are more about giri, a woman's duty toward a family: take care of a house, rear children, and preserve face of families (her own family and that of her husband). Under such circumstances, marriages tend to morph into mask relationships aimed at preserving face. Adultery on a husband'/wife's (sometimes) part ensues from the hollow relationships, thereby allowing a party to find some likeness of personal happiness. At the same time, wives are not expected to react this ungraceful behaviour, even if they know about it.
In case of Princess Kiko, the reward comes in the form of a very high social status and perquisites associated with being the Princess and the mother of the long-waited heir. She is expected to find a comfort in the above things.
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Old 11-25-2008, 08:31 PM
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That's very insightful Chiara C!!
Thanks for all the effort!
I've seen similar circumstances in real life, and what's always so heartbreaking is that
the wives want to work it out someway to have a close and warm relationship,
but husbands don't dare to.
And wives end up paying more attention to children, far more than necessary.
I hope Kiko's still enough fed with warmth from her lovely children.
Though Hisahito's birth didn't win her Akishino's attention, the little prince himslef could be a great gift.
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Old 11-25-2008, 10:22 PM
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I find all the above postings extremely interesting and although I believe we can "see" things in photos and understand situations studying body language, we are somewhat restricted in these forums from speculating.
I agree that Kiko has her position within the Imperial family cemented with the birth of her son.
If past rumours and current "evidence" suggests that the couple is not truly happy it would be really sad. I doubt Kiko is being treated badly and I wish her all the best.
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Old 12-10-2008, 05:45 PM
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ChiaraC, I hav been thinking about your post for at least a day and a half before daring to write these lines. In that time, too, I looked through the same evidences you have (thinking what a fellow forumer said, that it is hard to read body language and that we are attached to speculation), and I can say that my heart tells me you are right. This marriage is no longer peaceful or happy, and their situation is spreading to their children, as anyone can see in the faces of the Princesses. Let me tell you that you are a very intuitive person....
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Old 12-10-2008, 06:00 PM
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Well, I've often wondered why that elder daughter looks as though she has the weight of the world on her shoulders sometimes, but this would go a long way to explaining it.

I remember how fresh and happy Kiko looked at the time of the engagement and when newly married. Now, to me, she just looks smug. Perhaps it isn't smugness as much as a fixed smile that doesn't really go much beyond skin deep, because she doesn't have the emotional closeness with her husband. For all that Masako has suffered one way and another, she does at least seem to have a husband who truly adores her.

Kiko, like Masako, spent considerable time in her youth living in other countries, and she was exposed to the western way of thinking about relationships. Naruhito also spent time in England and has some experience of those other perspectives, so he and Masako probably have some mutual understanding there. Prince Akishino, on the other hand, seems to be very traditional (despite his own stint at Oxford), and it's very possible that he and Kiko might not have the same sort of mutual understanding that his brother and sister in law have.
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Old 12-10-2008, 06:23 PM
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It's really hard to say something about them only on the basis of photos.

When I watch their photos or videos I've impressed that I don't see people but marionettes. For all pictures they look almost the same with the same smile with the same face impression. Sometimes I wonder are they alive or not. Or maybe there's really nothing between them. Or they doesn't show they real emotions outside because that's Japan and that's much different culture than our louder western.
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Old 12-11-2008, 12:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elspeth View Post
Kiko, like Masako, spent considerable time in her youth living in other countries, and she was exposed to the western way of thinking about relationships. Naruhito also spent time in England and has some experience of those other perspectives, so he and Masako probably have some mutual understanding there. Prince Akishino, on the other hand, seems to be very traditional (despite his own stint at Oxford), and it's very possible that he and Kiko might not have the same sort of mutual understanding that his brother and sister in law have.
I do think that the Akishino marriage was in the beginning definitely based on love - or passion or infatuation, whatever: what exactly, I am not going to discuss here, but my point is: on personal attraction on both sides. I am not sure if for this it was even necessary for Kiko to grow up abroad - I am sure that many Japanese young g.irls are dreaming of romantic love who have never been outside of Japan - Japan is not cut off from the rest of the world to such a degree as to prevent that.

And I think that it is this beginning what makes things so hard for Kiko. You open up yourself in a different way and make yourself much more vulnerable when you marry for love. An arranged marriage may give less but also is asking less of you.

Akishino, IMO, was also very much in love in the beginning but, as I said before, he just wanted the pleasure and not the hard work. (And a successful marriage, especially in the modern sense, is always hard work. Here again: the traditional form may give less personal satisfaction but it also asks less personal efforts from the partners.) You can see this phenomenon also in Western men, as Jia says: "I've seen similar circumstances in real life, and what's always so heartbreaking is that the wives want to work it out someway to have a close and warm relationship, but husbands don't dare to." (I suppose she is not talking of real life only in Japan...) (To get this clear: there may also be women who are "lazy" in this way but, as, traditionally, they were, also in the Western world, more dependent on a working relationship than men they would be usually more committed and active here.)

It may be, though, that Akishino, because of his tradition, understands even less what the problem is than a Western man would and has less difficulties in silencing his conscience... And, for sure, he is surrounded by people who do not see the problem either - notably his parents... Although they appreciate Kiko I do not suppose that they are a help here...

But my point would be with all four of them, Naruhito, Masako, Fumihito and Kiko, that they had the chance to see both possibilities, Western and Eastern, traditional and modern, of building a relationship. And they all have made their choice – and could have chosen differently... I do not see Akishino´s character as determined by his way of growing up as to think that he would not have had the possibility to learn to treat his wife in a more respectful way.

And, as I said before, both couples have their own mixture of past and present. Naruhito´s and Masako´s marriage bears many traits of a traditionally arranged marriage – that was their choice and it is also characteristic for both of them. They started with matching values and visions and then tried to make it work on the personal level – an enterprise that certainly had its own difficulties but finally seems to have worked. The Akishinos started with mutual passion - a much more modern sort of beginning - but confronted with the difficulties of forming a lasting relationship out of individual desire, and failing, they fell back upon the empty conventions of tradition...

Thank you for your support, Jia, mermaid and Marquesa d Yolombó! Thank you, Albina , especially for giving the historical/social background! The story of the Akishinos is certainly not just an individual story but in many respects typical - for interaction between husband and wife in the change between tradition and modern times - which can also be applied to a degree to Western couples - but especially typical, of course, for a certain type of interaction between Japanese partners.
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Old 12-12-2008, 09:50 PM
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Originally Posted by ChiaraC View Post
I do think that the Akishino marriage was in the beginning definitely based on love - or passion or infatuation, whatever:
I guess it was more infatuation than anything... coming from Akishino, and Kiko felt flattered, being the object of a Prince's attention. I think most of the times that Akishino is bored of his family (and bored of his big doll Kiko), and only wants to be seated at the Chrysanthemum Throne. He seems to me that he is a little selfish regarding feelings and happiness, and that may have passed to Kiko and their daughters.

Thanks for your remark in my post ! And I say the same to the other posting: thanks a lot for sharing their opinions and debating here with us !!
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Old 12-15-2008, 12:52 PM
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I guess it was more infatuation than anything... coming from Akishino, and Kiko felt flattered, being the object of a Prince's attention. I think most of the times that Akishino is bored of his family (and bored of his big doll Kiko), and only wants to be seated at the Chrysanthemum Throne. He seems to me that he is a little selfish regarding feelings and happiness, and that may have passed to Kiko and their daughters!


Well, I agree that Kiko is lately somehow „frozen“ but if you look at these pictures, is that a doll?Here especially the second one:Prince Akishino & Princess Kiko Old Photos 1And here especially the first three and the fifth:Prince Akishino & Princess Kiko Old Photos 1 In my opinion, she was not always wearing a mask. And concerning the girls: they are sad, and they may sometimes feel a bit unnerved about their little brother being made such a fuss about (and rightly so) but I like them both. They do not look their best in the dark grey and beige dresses they are obliged to wear but I do think that they have a good heart. If they will close it some day and will stop feeling, like their mother, once their youthful hope is gone, future must show. - Of course, it is always what we see – none of us can prove it, and concerning the father of the family I certainly agree with you.
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Old 12-15-2008, 04:47 PM
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Or maybe that's not frozen on her face but some kind of dignity for the mother of the future emperor?
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Old 12-17-2008, 04:08 PM
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I'm not an expert on the Japanese RF, but my guess is that a Japanese person would have rather different expectations of marriage than, say, an American. What I, as an American woman, would find heartbreaking might be acceptable to a Japanese royal, even one who has married into the institution.

I have to say, however, that I am appalled that the situation with Princess Masako has persisted for so long. It doesn't speak well of the Imperial Household that they haven't been able to integrate her special needs with the demands they place upon her. I think she could make a great spouse for an emperor if they took advantage of her special talents and intelligence, but they seem to want to hide her in the corner and make her feel inadequate.

But the general situation doesn't seem favorable for wives or female children. Just my opinion.
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Old 12-18-2008, 01:00 PM
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Or maybe that's not frozen on her face but some kind of dignity for the mother of the future emperor?
Well, do not you think that it should be possible to be dignified and alive at the same time?
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Old 12-25-2008, 01:06 AM
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Anything is possible with this type of treatment.
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Old 12-25-2008, 06:12 AM
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Perhaps you do not agree.... but now, that I see for the first time here in the forum such a variety of photos of Princess Kiko - I cannot but admiringly say, what a lovely Lady, what simplicity but exquisite quality in wardrobes, what simplicity but beauty in jewelry. I am full of admiration.
Very happy Christmas to you all,
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Old 12-25-2008, 06:55 AM
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I'm not an expert on the Japanese RF, but my guess is that a Japanese person would have rather different expectations of marriage than, say, an American. What I, as an American woman, would find heartbreaking might be acceptable to a Japanese royal, even one who has married into the institution.

I have to say, however, that I am appalled that the situation with Princess Masako has persisted for so long. It doesn't speak well of the Imperial Household that they haven't been able to integrate her special needs with the demands they place upon her. I think she could make a great spouse for an emperor if they took advantage of her special talents and intelligence, but they seem to want to hide her in the corner and make her feel inadequate.

But the general situation doesn't seem favorable for wives or female children. Just my opinion.
I'm not Japanese but I am Asian and I am constantly surprised by
Westerners who seem to always assume we must be very different compared to themselves! You may be amazed, but we share a lot of the same feelings about things. While Asians may be more generally conservative than their Western counterparts, even the most conservative Asian woman would be heartbroken by a cold, unloving and cheating husband. Truly, our expectations of marriage are very much the same as that of Western women!

The only difference is that Asian people, especially women, are more often expected to pretend that they're not unhappy when they are. For an Asian woman, this is often the only way to maintain any sort of dignity. 'Letting it all hang out' causes deep personal embarassment. If your husband has humiliated you with his behaviour, why would you further humiliate yourself by causing a scene? That doesn't mean she's not hurting as much as a Western woman who's screaming for a divorce!

I certainly agree with your assessment of the effect the Imperial Household has on the women and children. The problem here is the old-fashioned and rigid way of life that the royals are subjected to rather than Japanese culture in general. Asian women are not as downtrodden (speaking broadly) as a lot of Westerners imagine. Asian society really isn't as rigid and conservative and sexist as portrayed in movies and books in the West. Don't belive all those novels you read. I don't believe all the Hollywood movies I watch. Japanese women are also some of the most liberated (and liberal!) in all of Asia! However, the women in the Imperial family are held to a far more rigid standard than regular women, hence the problems.

I would love to see a greater opening-up of the Imperial family. I hope that in Naruhito's time, he will make the necessary changes to modernize the Imperial Household so that in future the women who marry into the family will not have to suffer the way his wife and sister-in-law have.
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Old 12-25-2008, 05:42 PM
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firelight,
While I understand your discontent with stereotypes, I would like to point out that the Imperial family is almost Orthodox in regard to preserving the face and maintaining harmonious relationships. At the same time, it would be fair to assume that families based on the traditional values and norms still exist. It is acceptable for female residents of Tokyo to lead the life they enjoy. Female residents of a fishing village tend to be more inclined to lead a rather traditional life: marriage, children, fulfilling their duty as a daughter/wife.
The Japanese society was more about struggling with something, striving for more, persevering, serving one's husband/family. Now the external factors (economic crisis, changes of attitudes among females) have prompted some transformational changes.
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Old 12-26-2008, 08:40 AM
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Thanks ChiaraC for your analysis of Princess Kiko. It was (really) very interesting to read it.

I still want to believe that Kiko is happy. She's the only person of this family that I still find glad and confident...
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