Crown Princess Masako of Japan, who is set to become Empress of Japan next year when her husband Crown Prince Naruhito ascends the throne, stayed for the entire autumn garden party on Friday for the first time in 15 years. In the past, she has left the event early.
Masako, who has battled a stress-related illness for years, was dressed in a traditional kimono like her mother-in-law, Empress Michiko. Emperor Akihito, Empress Michiko, Crown Prince and Crown Princess stood in the rain for their second garden party of the year at the Akasaka Imperial Gardens in Tokyo.
Garden parties are held twice a year – once in the spring and once in the autumn. There will not be one in the spring of 2019 as the Japanese Imperial Family will be preparing for Emperor Akihito’s abdication on 30 April 2019. The Crown Prince will ascend the throne the following day.
As such, the next time Masako attends the event, she will do so as Empress of Japan.
The Crown Princess has not attended many events since 2002 due to her illness. She made her first appearance at a garden party for over a decade in November 2015.
Born Masako Owada on 9 December 1963 in Tokyo, the future royal enjoyed the life of a diplomat before marrying the Crown Prince.
After initially rejecting his proposal, Masako married Crown Prince Naruhito on 9 June 1993 in a traditional ceremony. They have one child, Princess Aiko (b. 1 December 2001) who, as a female, is not eligible to succeed the throne. As a result, when her parents become Emperor and Empress of Japan, her uncle will become the heir, and her only male cousin, Prince Hisahito will one day ascend the throne after his father.
According to Japan’s Imperial Household Law, women cannot ascend the throne, and when they marry a commoner, they must renounce their titles and leave the Imperial Family. Whether or not to change the law has been up for debate in Japan, but so far, no action has been taken by the government to make said change.