Prince William strikes a friendly contrast to Japan's prince

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Tokyo, Feb 27: Britain's Prince William, on his second day of his four-day trip to Japan, is having tea today with Crown Prince Naruhito.

Both princes may be equally charming, but it is no contest which one is seen as more approachable. Members of the Japanese imperial family lead a highly cloistered life, guarded by the moat-surrounded stone walls of the palace.

Prince William to meet Japan's prince

Their media coverage is just as tightly orchestrated and controlled. And that has created a respectful distance between the family and the general public.

Don't count on regular Japanese clamoring to get the same dress or jewelry spotted on Naruhito's wife Masako, the same way many around the world do for Kate's.

Comments from the family are few and far between sometimes in a poem issued here, a speech while waving behind bullet-proof glass on a balcony there. Crowds have appeared for William, 32, waving to him, snapping cell-phone photos and eager to shake his hand.

"Compared to Japanese royalty, he is so friendly," said Naoyuki Tajima, who is overseeing an exhibit about British technology and culture in Tokyo, where William is scheduled to visit. Tabloid-type gossip rampant for the British royals is taboo for their counterparts in Japan.

Part of it is caused by the general docility of the mainstream media here. But much of it is the prevalent social sentiments about seeing the Imperial Household as shrouded in secrecy. Until Japan's defeat at the end of World War II in 1945, the emperor was seen as divine.

No one believes that today, but that hasn't changed the deeply rooted view they aren't really regular folks.

Ingrid Seward, editor in chief for Majesty Magazine, a London-based monthly that covers European royalty, said the Japanese Emperor and his family could become more of a plus for the country's image by "modernising" and becoming more visible.

William wins praise for his views on the environment and symbolises "hope for the monarchy of the future," she said.

"They should take a look at Prince William and how he responds to the people he meets and how he is able to talk to the crowd, like his mother did before him," she said, referring to Diana.


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