Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Pressured to produce a male heir, Japan's stressed princess may travel abroad for the first time in seven years

In this photo released by the Imperial Household Agency of Japan, Japanese Crown Prince Naruhito, Crown Princess Masako and their daughter Princess Aiko pose with their pet dogs, Pippi and Mari, at their residence in Togu Palace, Tokyo February 12, 2007.


The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have plenty of regal duties, but producing a male heir is not one of them. William and Kate's first child, whatever its gender, will be in line for the throne.

If only Japan had a similar rule.

Japan's Crown Princess Masako, who has been treated for a stress-induced illness for a decade, is expected to travel abroad for the first time in about seven years, multiple media reports said Wednesday.

Story continues below advertisement

US-educated Masako, a former diplomat, has reportedly struggled with the cloistered nature of royal life in one of the world's oldest and most tradition-bound monarchies.

Masako married Crown Prince Naruhito in 1993 and gave birth to their first and only child, a girl, in late 2001 under intense pressure to bear a son in keeping with Japan's male-only royal succession law.

She was diagnosed with an adjustment disorder, according to an official statement in 2004.

The pressure seemingly eased when a boy was born to the family of the crown prince's younger brother in 2006, the first prince born to Japan's royal family in 40 years.

Masako, 49, may accompany her 53 year-old husband on an official visit to the Netherlands to attend the coronation of Willem Alexander on April 30, dailies, news agencies and TV networks said. The press office of the Imperial Household Agency said it could not confirm reports of the trip.

The trip to the Netherlands will be Masako's first overseas trip since Naruhito's family spent about two weeks at a retreat in the Netherlands in August 2006 at the invitation of Queen Beatrix.

In Oct. 2011, British politicians scrapped a 300-year-old rule, thus giving girls born into the monarchy equal rights with boys in the succession of the throne.

Story continues below advertisement

Although the changes were historic, the nation would wait a long time to see the first royal daughter benefit from them. The Cambridge's might have a son. And the Royal Family already has two generations of kings-in-waiting (Charles and William). The Queen also celebrated her Diamond Jubilee last year and is in good health. Her own mother, the Queen Mother, lived to 101.

With a report from Agence France-Presse

Report an error Licensing Options

The Globe invites you to share your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful to everyone. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

We’ve made some technical updates to our commenting software. If you are experiencing any issues posting comments, simply log out and log back in.

Discussion loading… ✨