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Splendid welcome for Queen Maxima in Japan as Princess Masako attends first state banquet in 11 years

30 October 2014
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Handshakes, beaming smiles and kisses set the tone for Queen Maxima and King Willem-Alexander's state visit to Japan, which combined pomp and ceremony with the feeling of a meeting between family friends. 

Arriving at the Imperial Palace at the start of a six-day trip, the Dutch royals were greeted warmly by Emperor Akihito and his wife Empress Michiko, both 80.

queen maxima1 © Photo: Rex

The Emperor's daughter-in-law Princess Masako, wife of his son Crown Prince Naruhito, had paid their guests the ultimate compliment by wearing orange – the Dutch national colour. Her suit echoed Maxima's own elegant choice of a Fifties-style day dress in burnt orange, with a bandeau head dress.

For many years Masako has suffered from a stress-induced nervous condition. So her high-profile participation in the welcome is a sign both of her improving health and her closeness to the Dutch royals. In 2006, two years after Masako's diagnosis, Willem-Alexander's mother, formerly Queen Beatrix, invited the Japanese princess and her husband for a two-week holiday at her private estate, Het Loo Palace, in Apeldoorn.

queen maxima2 © Photo: Rex

Many royal watchers said Beatrix sympathised given that her own husband, the late Prince Claus, suffered with severe depression.

Last year Masako undertook her first overseas engagement in 11years to attend Willem-Alexander's inauguration as king at the express request of Maxima, who phoned to encourage her.

On Tuesday, the Dutch monarch was invited to inspect an honour guard as soldiers raised the flags of both their countries.

queen maxima © Photo: Rex

After a visit to a design museum and an oriental garden, the royals were guests of honour at a splendid banquet. For the stylish evening affair, Maxima was resplendent in a gold sequin-encrusted gown, with a diamond and pearl tiara, with matching drop earrings and a diamond bow-shaped brooch.

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