A year later, as she turned 40, the princess was hospitalised with shingles - a painful inflammation of the nerves - and later admitted to suffering from "fatigue"
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"Weeks later, it was confirmed she would not be present at either the May 14 wedding of Frederik of Denmark or the May 22 nuptials of Felipe of Spain. And, when her sister-in-law Princess Sayako celebrated her 35th birthday in April, she admitted to being "deeply worried" about Masako – strong wording by the royal family's standards.
The crown princess spent most of April resting at her parents' home, a private mountain villa northwest of Tokyo. And, in an unusual move – it is highly uncommon for a royal to stay in a private household – the crown prince accompanied his wife, though official duties meant he returned to Tokyo in late March. By the end of April Masako was back at the palace, but it was announced she would not immediately be resuming royal duties.
Before departing for Europe, Naruhito - who has made it clear he thinks denying his wife the opportunity to use her diplomatic skills has contributed to her illness - complained that making the trip without his spouse would be "wrenching". Responding, the head of the prince's household intimated that future overseas visits would be arranged more in keeping with the couple's needs.