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The Crown Princess

Posted April. 14, 2005 23:24,   


The position known as “Crown Prince” is probably one of the most burdensome in the world. As the official heir to the king, who must play a very influential role, he needs to have a high level of political judgment and self-restraint. He should not outrun the king, nor should he lag behind too much. So it’s little wonder that the job of the Crown Princess, who must take care of the prince as he maintains his place “a step behind, and a step to the left” of the king even in his dreams, should be that much more painstaking and lonely.

It is heard that Crown Princess Masako, wife of Crown Prince Naruhito, who is the first in line to the Japanese throne, is suffering from severe depression. The former diplomat, fluent in five languages, is said to have a hard time coping with the royal life, and the pressure toward her to give birth to a male heir from both inside and outside the royal circle. Her mother-in-law, Queen Michiko, who is from a civil family with two sons and one daughter, used to suffer from aphasia, suggesting how painful it must be for women to cope with the royal lifestyle. For more than a decade, the Japanese Royal Family has been hoping for the Princess Masako to bear a male heir.

Diana, Princess of Wales, was also discontent with her life despite being the subject of jealousy and envy from all women, because of her husband Prince Charles’ constant love affairs and indifference to her. She was killed in a tragic car accident in 1997, but she remains as an “eternal princess” in the hearts of the British. By contrast, Camilla Parker Bowles, who was finally married to Prince Charles after her divorce 35 years ago, had to accept the title of “Wife of the Crown Prince,” instead of the official title of “Princess.”

The most tragic princess in the Joseon Dynasty must be Crown Princess Hong of Hyegyeonggung. She had to watch as her husband, Crown Prince Sado, was ordered by his father, King Yeongjo, to step into a rice chest, which was subsequently bound and covered in sod so that he died trapped inside it. Her deep sorrow is well portrayed in the “Memoirs of a Korean Queen,” known as “Hangjungrok” in Korean. The eldest granddaughter-in-law to the King, the last one in the Joseon Royal Dynasty, was Julia (aged 82). She currently lives a solitary life, forced to divorce the then prince by the royal in-laws because she was a foreigner who failed to produce a male heir. It seems that the higher one’s social status, the deeper the shadows.