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Medical mystery as Japan's Crown Princess Kiko left unable to eat 'normal meals' - report

Crown Princess Kiko may not attend Sunday's Imperial Palace ritual

Crown Prince Akishino and Crown Princess Kiko
Matthew Moore
Online News Writer & Diversity and Inclusion Lead
6 January 2024
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Crown Princess Kiko has reportedly been left unable to eat "normal meals" and it remains to be seen whether the royal will be in attendance during Sunday's Showa Tenno-sai ritual.

On Saturday, various Japanese publications reported that an Imperial Palace Agency statement revealed that Kiko had been unwell since December. It is still unknown what has caused her illness with doctors ruling out COVID-19, which the royal contracted last July, and influenza. Although the princess was able to attend New Year's events she may be forced to pull out of Sunday's ceremony.

WATCH: All you need to know about Japan's royal family

Reports state that ahead of the service, a samurai doctor will assess her condition.

The ceremony is held annually on 7 January at the Koreiden to honour the death of Emperor Showa. Showa is Japan's longest-serving emperor, having ruled over the country from 1926 until he died in 1989. Showa is, however, a controversial figure having waged wars across Asia in the 1930s and 1940s and his involvement as part of the 'Axis of Evil' during World War II.

Crown Prince Akishino standing with Crown Princess Kiko© LUONG THAI LINH/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
Kiko may be forced to miss a royal event on Sunday

Last July, the 57-year-old contracted COVID-19, forcing her to cancel a selection of planned visits, including a national event that was set up to promote blood donations. During her illness, the royal recuperated at home.

Kiko married Crown Prince Akishino in 1990. The couple met while undergrads with the prince, who was then known as Prince Fumihito, suggesting that the couple marry back in 1986. The pair became engaged in 1989, but their wedding date was delayed by a year due to national mourning for Emperor Showa.

Crown Prince Akishino and Crown Princess Kiko walking© Karwai Tang
Kiko and Akishino attended last year's coronation

The couple share three children, Mako Komuro, 32, Princess Kako, 29, and Prince Hisahito, 17. Their eldest daughter, Mako, used to carry a royal title, however following her marriage to a commoner in 2021, she renounced her title.

In 2017, Mako announced her engagement to childhood sweetheart, Kei Komuro. The lovebirds – who first crossed paths in 2012 at a study-abroad event – intended to exchange vows in 2018. Public backlash from the engagement initially caused Prince Akishino to withold his blessing for the couple's marriage, but he ultimately allowed the nuptials in 2020.

Princess Mako at a tennis tournament© Aflo/Shutterstock
Mako renounced her royal title after marrying a 'commoner'

On the day of their wedding, Mako skipped the usual rites associated with a royal wedding and turned down a traditional payment of about $1.3m (£940,000) given to a female member of the imperial family upon their departure from the household.

At the time, she said: "We will be starting a new life. I am sure we will encounter difficulties along the way. But just as we have until now, I want to continue joining forces [with Kei] and walking together side by side."

Mako Komuro and Kei Komuro in an airport© JIJI PRESS/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
Mako and Kei now live in New York

She added: "Our loyalty to each other is thanks to our devotion to one another and thanks to the presence of all those who supported us.

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"There are many who understand the difficulty of living while protecting our hearts. I hope that we can create a society where we can all live and support each other's feelings."

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