Friday, December 10, 2004

It's Hard to be the Princess

At first I kind of thought “aw, it must be so hard to be a princess and live in a palace.” And then I read on some more… I think I’ll stick with just being a princess in my own mind and in my own apartment.

Entertainment - Reuters Celebrity/Gossip

Japan's Stressed Princess Says She's Getting Better
Wed Dec 8,10:12 PM ET

Entertainment - Reuters Celebrity/Gossip
By Elaine Lies
TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's Crown Princess Masako said she was recovering slowly from a stress-related illness most attribute to pressure to produce a male heir, but she was still unable to resume official duties after a year in seclusion.

The Harvard-educated former diplomat, who turned 41 on Thursday, has performed no official duties since last December because of a mental condition court officials said was caused by the strain of adapting to royal life. (about here I'm thinking, that's a strain I'd be glad to have)

Masako and her husband, Crown Prince Naruhito, have one daughter, Aiko, who turned three last week. Under Japanese law, only males can ascend the Chrysanthemum Throne.

"Over the last year there have been some rough periods, but thanks to the warm support from the Crown Prince and many other people, I feel that my health is gradually improving," Masako said in comments released to mark her birthday.

"It will probably still be some time before I can resume my official duties, but I will make every effort to recover as soon as possible," she added.

According to her doctors, the princess has regained enough strength to do simple things without needing to rest all the time, but she still tires easily, both physically and mentally, and is not sleeping well, said an official at the Imperial Household Agency, which manages the royal family's affairs.

The doctors hoped that she would be able to resume official duties some time next year, but they would need to be light for a while.

Masako, who gave up her career as a diplomat to marry Naruhito in 1993, had hoped to act as a sort of "royal envoy," but she has been restricted in her ability to travel by court officials. (hmm, I'm a princess with a worldly past, but now I can't go anywhere... that doesn't sound like much fun. maybe if she produces a son/an heir they will let her out?)

Her illness has turned the spotlight on the Imperial Family and prompted some unusually candid comments from the Crown Prince, who told a news conference in May that she had "completely exhausted herself" in trying to adapt to palace life.

Empress Michiko, the first commoner to marry a crown prince, subsequently delivered what some saw as a veiled rebuke to her daughter-in-law. (also doesn't sound like much fun. hey, I'm a princess - no saying bad things about me allowed) And Naruhito's younger brother, Prince Akishino, last week criticized the crown prince for complaining in public without first consulting the emperor. (wow)

The rare public signs of friction come as the family faces a succession crisis. No males have been born since Akishino in 1965. Akishino and his wife have two girls.

Surveys show that most Japanese favor legal changes to let a woman inherit the throne and ruling party lawmakers have suggested revising the constitution to allow a reigning empress. (oh my! what is the world coming to?)

Conservatives, though, oppose any change that would break what they see as an unbroken male line stretching back some 2,600 years. Japan has had eight reigning empresses in the past, but none passed on the throne to her child and some academics say they were seen as "caretakers" until a male heir came along. (yep, "caretakers")

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