Princess Chichibu

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Today marks the Anniversary of the Birth of Setsuko, Princess Chichibu, who was born on this day in 1909. Born ‘The Honourable Setsuko Matsudaira’, the daughter of Tsuneo Matsudaira, the Japanese Ambassador to the United States and later to Great Britain, and Nobuko Nabeshima, she was born in England and educated at the Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C. The scion of distinguished aristocratic families, she was the paternal granddaughter of the last daimyō of Aizu and the maternal granddaughter of Marquis Naohiro Nabeshima, daimyō of Saga. She was formally adopted by her uncle Viscount Morio Matsudaira, ahead of her marriage to Prince Chichibu, the second son of Emperor Taishō and Empress Teimei, thus removing the status incongruity between the couple. After their wedding in 1928, Prince and Princess Chichibu had no children but by all accounts their marriage was filled with love and happiness until his death in 1953. In 1937, they undertook an extensive tour of Western Europe, representing Japan at the Coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, and also staying as the guests of King Gustav V of Sweden and Queen Wilhelmina of The Netherlands, forging friendships that lasted long after the Second World War. Princess Chichibu was president of the Society for the Prevention of Tuberculosis, honorary president of the Britain-Japan Society, the Sweden-Japan Society, and an honorary vice president of the Japanese Red Cross. The Princess continued to be a hardworking member of the Imperial Family and undertook several official visits to Europe. Her autobiography was posthumously published as ‘The Silver Drum: A Japanese Imperial Memoir’ and translated into English. Princess Chichibu  passed away in 1995 at the age of 85, bequeathing her Honeysuckle Tiara to Empress Michiko.

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