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World's loneliest royal princess banned from marriage and ruling her country

Mirror logo Mirror 6/12/2019 Matt Roper

Aiko, Princess Toshi standing in front of a car window: TOKYO, JAPAN - AUGUST 11:  (CHINA OUT, SOUTH KOREA OUT) Princess Aiko is seen on arrival at the Imperial Palace to meet Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko after studying abroad on August 11, 2018 in Tokyo, Japan.  (Photo by The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images) © The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Imag TOKYO, JAPAN - AUGUST 11: (CHINA OUT, SOUTH KOREA OUT) Princess Aiko is seen on arrival at the Imperial Palace to meet Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko after studying abroad on August 11, 2018 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images) With much pomp and pageantry, Crown Prince Naruhito has ascended the Chrysanthemum Throne to become the next emperor of Japan.

It was a day the 59-year-old had been waiting for his whole life.

And as he solemnly made his vows, the ascension ceremony kept the same traditions and symbolism as every other since the world’s oldest monarchy began in 660BC.

That included keeping his wife of 60 years, Michiko, and his 18-year-old daughter, Princess Aiko, well out of sight - only men are allowed to behold the crowning of a Japanese emperor.

And because of the same, centuries-old imperial rules, Aiko - hidden away on her father’s historic day - must have been feeling an impending sense of trepidation and fear at the thought of now being the daughter of the emperor.

a group of people standing in front of a crowd: Well-wishers wave Japanese flags as Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako make their first public appearance © AFP/Getty Images Well-wishers wave Japanese flags as Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako make their first public appearance Because now she faces a truly heartbreaking future - trapped between being a royal who will never herself accede the throne, or finding happiness but losing the life of a princess which is all she has ever known.

As Naruhito’s only child, Aiko should technically be one step closer to the throne herself, but as a woman, she knows she will never become empress.

Unlike most modern monarchies, including the UK, only men can assume the throne.

But being able to take over from her father is the least of Aiko’s worries.

What is more ominous for the young princess is that, according to imperial rules, she can only marry a nobleman.

Should she marry a commoner, she will will be stripped of her title and access to the family’s fortune.

But there are no more men of noble birth left in Japan.

Aiko, Princess Toshi, Naruhito, Crown Prince of Japan, Masako, Crown Princess of Japan that are standing in the grass: Princess Aiko with her father Naruhito and mother Masako © The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Imag Princess Aiko with her father Naruhito and mother Masako That means that either Aiko stays single, yet a princess, destined for a life of loneliness and bound by strict royal rules, or she finds love but loses her royal standing, and the wealth, status and privileges that come with it.

The rules - which were only enacted in 1947 - have meant that the royal family has been ‘losing’ female members at a rapid rate - and Princess Aiko has a good idea of what life would be like outside the Imperial Household.

In 2005, Aiko’s aunt, Princess Sayako, married a commoner in front of just 30 people.

She had no choice but to relinquish her title and move out of the Imperial Palace into a regular Tokyo apartment.

She was given a dowry of just £1.3million - just a fraction of the £289million a year the royal household lives on.

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To prepare her for her new life as a commoner, she had to be taught how to drive and taken to a supermarket to be taught how to shop.

And last year, Aiko’s cousin, Princess Ayako, also lost her title and privileges after marrying boyfriend Kei Moraya, who works for a shipping firm.

a person wearing a suit and tie: Princess Ayako lost her royal status and had to learn how to buy groceries © The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Imag Princess Ayako lost her royal status and had to learn how to buy groceries Meanwhile her aunt, Princess Mako, has been dating law student Kei Momuro, renowned in the Japanese press for his shaggy haircut.

When the couple tie the knot, she will also renounce her place in the royal household.

Known as Princess Toshi, Aiko has known nothing but the extravagant opulence and strict etiquette of Japan’s imperial household, where with servants attended to her every whim she doesn’t have to lift a finger.

Her father once reportedly expressed amazement at how relaxed the British royal family were compared with how Japanese royals are supposed to behave, remarking that Queen Elizabeth pours her own tea and serves sandwiches.

But growing up as a royal also appears to have brought its own problems for the young princess.

Princess Mako of Akishino posing for the camera: Princess Mako is dating a 'commoner' too © Getty Images Princess Mako is dating a 'commoner' too After moving to primary school aged eight, she reportedly suffered anxiety attacks and refused to go to school after suffering bullying from her classmates.

An investigation revealed that she had suffered “violent things” from boys in another class.

The school, however, explained away the incident, claiming that two boys accidentally collided with her, “which scared her”

In October 2016, there were more worries about the princess when she missed nearly two months from school due to an unspecified illness.

Palace officials confirmed the teenager had been complaining of stomach problems and dizziness, which they attributed to studying for exams as well as practising for an athletics event.

Aiko, Princess Toshi, Masako, Crown Princess of Japan, Naruhito, Crown Prince of Japan posing for the camera: Aiko is Emperor Naruhito's only child © The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Imag Aiko is Emperor Naruhito's only child Then in December that year, when official photos were released to mark her 15th birthday, there was shock in Japan at how thin and frail she looked, leading many to speculate she was suffering from an eating disorder.

In recent years there have been calls to reform imperial law and allow female monarchs to rule, and allow female royals to marry outside of nobility - with many pointing out that Aiko would be entitled to assume the throne in a British or Dutch monarchy.

At present there are only three heirs to the throne - Emperor Naruhito’s younger brother Crown Prince Akishino, 53, his son Prince Hisahito, 12, and the emperor’s uncle Prince Hitachi, 83, and experts are sounding the alarm that the imperial line may disappear completely if the Imperial House Law is not revised.

In 2005, an expert panel called for a recognition of matrilineal succession and a revision to the law to allow the imperial couple’s first born, regardless of gender, to ascend the throne.

But the impetus was halted with the birth of Prince Hisahito in 2006 - the was the first male member of the imperial family born in nearly 41 years.

a group of people standing in a room: New Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako receive representatives of the people following his accession to the throne © The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Imag New Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako receive representatives of the people following his accession to the throne Concerns also exist that should women marry out of the household, the burden of official duties will fall onto a smaller number of family members.

Of the current 18 imperial family members including Emperor Emeritus Akihito, 85, and Empress Emerita Michiko, 84, who no longer perform official duties, 13 are women.

In a recent poll, 84 per cent of Japanese said they would support women becoming emperors, believing the change would help keep the imperial household relevant in a modern society.

But Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe is reportedly against allowing women to rule, believing that because the throne has consistently been passed down through the male line, it should continue the same way.

Meanwhile, Princess Aiko is left in a royal limbo - and facing a stark, lonely future.

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