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Japan’s Crown Prince Couple celebrate silver wedding anniversary

By TICAD7 Photographs - The Tea Reception at the Imperial Palace, CC0,

Crown Prince Naruhito of Japan used his 25th wedding anniversary to reaffirm his commitment to his future role as ceremonial head of state, on Saturday.

He publically pledged to uphold the country’s royal traditions upon taking the throne. The 58-year-old heir has vowed to “dedicate heart and soul” to the duties of the Emperor. Naruhito said he believes it is important to keep the tradition of the Japanese Imperial Family while responding to changes in society.

Next May, Emperor Akihito will step down after ruling for thirty years, and Naruhito will ascend the Chrysanthemum Throne.

To mark their special anniversary, the Crown Prince announced he would present a silver medal to Crown Princess Masako to show his gratitude for her support through their marriage. On their 10th wedding anniversary, he awarded her the ‘effort prize’ and ‘gratitude prize’.

Crown Princess Masako used the day to thank her husband for the support he gave her through the mental illness she has been fighting for years. She has been receiving treatment for “adjustment disorder” brought on by stress since she agreed to marry into the Imperial Family.

In her first statement to the media since 2003, Masako said she would continue “praying for people’s happiness” and think about people in disaster-hit regions, such as Tohoku, which was heavily damaged by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami that hit in 2011.

The couple first met at a reception for Spain’s Princess Elena in 1986 and following six years of courting and two declined marriage proposals, Masako accepted Naruhito’s third proposal. She had initially been hesitant to enter the marriage as it would force her to give up her career in diplomacy and severely restrict her independence and freedom.

The Crown Prince and Crown Princess married on June 9, 1993. Their wedding ceremony took place in the grounds of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, at the Kashiko-dokoro, the Shinto shrine of Amaterasu, the Sun Goddess. In front of their 800 guests, Naruhito wore a long, bright orange robe to represent the rising sun, something only a crown prince can wear. Both the bride and groom’s outfits dated back to the Heian Era, between 794 and 1185.