Along with her husband Prince Akishino, Princess Kiko attended a traditional Japanese ritual to pray for the safe delivery of her third child
Photo: © AFP
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1 AUGUST 2006
Pregnant Princess Kiko of Japan took part in a traditional ceremony on Tuesday to pray for the safe delivery of her unborn child. The 39-year-old royal, who already has two daughters with her husband Prince Akishino, is due to give birth by caesarean section ahead of her September due date because of a complication with the pregnancy.
The princess, who is the wife of the crown prince's younger brother, dressed in an elaborate ivory silk dress and donned a red and white silk sash for the brief "chakutai no gi" ceremony. Kiko's chief lady-in-waiting helped to tie the ceremonial belt – a gift from Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko - while her husband, smart in a morning coat, tied the knot. The special service took place in the ninth month of pregnancy on the Day of the Dog, which, according to the Oriental Zodiac, is an especially auspicious day, as dogs are traditionally believed to have an easy time giving birth.
Kiko's pregnancy has been the talk of the country, as the world's oldest monarchy has failed to produce a male heir to the throne since 1965. The news that she was expecting resulted in plans for legislation to allow women to ascend the throne – which would enable the daughter of Akishino's brother Naruhito to become empress - being shelved.
If the princess, who has chosen not to find out the sex of her third child, gives birth to a boy it could provide the solution to the succession crisis. Meanwhile the Imperial Household revealed that Prince Naruhito and his wife Masako, who has been suffering from a stress-related illness, will take a rare overseas holiday to the Netherlands for the last two weeks of August, possibly to escape the media attention were Kiko to have a son.
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