Crown Prince Naruhito, Crown Princess Masako and their daughter, Princess Aiko, left for the Netherlands on Thursday for a two-week trip aimed at helping the Crown Princess recover from her stress-induced illness.
This is the first time a member of the Imperial family has gone abroad to recuperate.
The Crown Prince, 46, and the Crown Princess, 42, last traveled overseas together in December 2002 on an official visit to New Zealand and Australia. This foreign trip is the first for their 4-year-old daughter.
After arriving in Amsterdam on a Japan Airlines plane, the family will travel by car to Apeldoorn in the eastern Netherlands, where they will stay at a castle as guests of the Dutch royal family.
Yutaka Ono, Crown Princess Masako’s chief doctor and professor at Keio University Health Center in Tokyo who treats her for stress-related adjustment disorder, is accompanying the family.
Masako’s doctors say her stress has resulted mainly from her status as Crown Princess and issues related to pregnancy and miscarriage. She has relinquished most of her official duties since late 2003.
Her doctors said in a statement when the Crown Prince’s household announced the trip to the Netherlands in June, “It is therapeutically useful to rest in a quiet environment, especially for the three of them to spend a peaceful time together.”
Since her marriage to Crown Prince Naruhito in June 1993, Princess Masako, a former diplomat, has been under pressure to produce a male who would be in line to inherit the throne. No male has been born into the Imperial family since the Crown Prince’s younger brother, Prince Akishino, was born in November 1965.
Princess Kiko, Prince Akishino’s wife, is expecting a third child, stirring the possibility that a male may be born for the first time in 41 years. The princess entered a Tokyo hospital Wednesday to prepare for a Caesarean-section delivery in early September.
The Imperial House Law allows only males who have emperors on their fathers’ side to ascend to the throne.
The Crown Prince and family will meet with Queen Beatrix and other royals.
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