• Kyodo


The Imperial Household Agency is making final arrangements for Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako to attend the coronation of the new Dutch king later this month, agency sources said Wednesday.

It would be the first official overseas trip in 11 years for the Crown Princess, who continues to receive treatment for a stress-induced illness. Her last such engagement was in 2002, when she traveled to New Zealand and Australia.

The agency is in the stages of formally replying to the Netherlands that the couple will be able to attend the coronation of Prince Willem-Alexander, which is slated for April 30, the sources said.

The Prince of Orange, 45, will become the country’s first king in more than a century after Queen Beatrix announced in January she will abdicate April 30 after a 33-year reign to hand over power to her son.

The Netherlands sounded out the Crown Prince and Crown Princess through a diplomatic channel in early March to inquire as to whether they could attend the ceremony. The deadline to reply was early that month, the agency said, and a formal invitation was dispatched to the couple April 1.

The delay stemmed from continued consultations between the couple and the Crown Princess’ doctors on whether she is physically fit to make a long flight and participate in important functions, according to the sources. But the doctors have given the green light, and the agency is working out procedures with the prime minister’s office on getting the Cabinet approval necessary for overseas trips by members of the Imperial family, the sources said.

The agency is looking into reducing the load of the Crown Princess in attending some functions. In addition to the coronation ceremony, others events include a banquet.

The delayed response to the invitation prompted Noriyuki Kazaoka, grand steward of the agency, to take the unusual step of advising the couple to make a decision as soon as possible.

The Crown Prince has maintained close relations with Prince Willem-Alexander, as they share a strong interest in water resources issues. The Crown Prince serves as honorary president of the U.N. Secretary General’s Advisory Board on Water & Sanitation, which the Dutch prince chairs.

The Crown Prince and his family stayed at Dutch royal facilities for about two weeks in the summer of 2006 for a private vacation that was also aimed at helping his wife recuperate from her illness.

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