This photo is from the Star Bulletin website.
I just read in the Honolulu Star Bulletin that Empress Michiko and Emperor Akihito of Japan are visiting Hawaii today. Through the years my mother (who shares a birthday with the Empress) has told me stories of the miserable lives that royalty often live. Her heart has always ached for Empress Michiko who has been treated terribly by the palace hierarchy throughout her marriage. My mother's point of view was that the palace staff looked down on the Crown Princess because she was born a commoner. In the 1990's Empress Michiko suffered a nervous breakdown and lost her voice for a time. Now, Crown Princess Masako who has been emotionally tortured because of their inability to bear a male heir seems to also be suffering as her predecessor did.
My mother recalls the time before Michiko san was an Empress and even before she was a Princess. Mom worked for the Hawaii Times (Japanese language) newspaper. Michiko san was being being asked to marry the Crown Prince who had fallen in love with her and wanted her to be his Princess. Perhaps to escape the press and to give herself time to think through what she wanted her future to be... what she was willing to give up, she went on a world wide journey. One of the stops was Hawaii.
The front page reporter for the Hawaii Times was asked by the Japanese Counsulate to show a very important person around Oahu. My mother says he was rather surprised and then embarrassed because he only owned a rather shabby car in which to squire around a potential princess. When he returned he reported how charmed he was by Michiko san.
What really blew him away later and touched him deeply was the very beautiful, very gracious thank you note she personally wrote to thank him for the wonderful time she had while in Hawaii.
Well, you all know how I feel about thank you notes. Hearing this story made me admire this beautiful lady even more. I ache for her, too. Did she make the right decision? Her husband has tried to shelter her as much as he could but it's been a difficult life.
If Empress Michiko knew what her life would truly be like, would she still have given herself up to this fate? She appears to share a deep love with her Emperor husband so I'm thinking.... perhaps....