Many expected confident Masako to bring a breath of fresh air to the imperial family
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Masako's shy smile, style and demeanour soon led to her being compared to Princess Diana. And like Diana, many expected her to bring a breath of fresh air to a royal family with an extremely conservative reputation.
But unlike Di, this royal bride was not a wide-eyed 19-year-old. She was a worldly young professional with an excellent education and successful career behind her. Modern Japanese women identified with her, and agreed she could revolutionise the sedate Imperial Household. "The question is one of finding a point of harmonious balance between a traditional model of a crown princess and my own personality," reflected a diplomatic Masako.
It wasn’t long, however, before it appeared that Masako would not be the harbinger of change many hoped she would be. Her previously stylish wardrobe soon gave way to ultra-tailored suits and traditional kimonos. And, as the years passed, onlookers noted that the famously resilient princess, who had coped so well in high-pressure work situations, appeared to be succumbing to the stress of not having produced a royal heir.