Princess on course to be our latest royal resident

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SHE may be an unknown to her fellow students, but there will be one very special fresher at Edinburgh University later this year.

For while she may not attract a second glance in the Capital, the young student is one of the best-known faces in newspapers and magazines of the Far East.

It has been revealed that Princess Mako of Akishino, 20, the eldest grandchild of the Emperor and Empress of Japan and the great-granddaughter of the late Emperor Hirohito, will study in Edinburgh from September.

She will leave Tokyo’s International Christian University to study fine arts as an exchange student.

Ewan Leaver, president of Edinburgh University’s Japan Society said he was thrilled at the news.

He said: “It’s pretty amazing, I had heard a rumour about it some weeks ago. What an honour for the university to be chosen by such a notable royal.

“Our society has over 50 members and we meet every Wednesday in The Ale House on Clerk Street. Princess Mako will be made more than welcome if she wishes to attend.

“We get a lot of students coming to the university from Japan who wish to sample Scottish life and culture. It would be an honour to show her the sights.”

It is not known whether the Princess will have police protection or bodyguards during her stay in Edinburgh but she will not necessarily live in the lap of luxury.

In 2010, she spent one-and-a-half months in Ireland for a summer language course, staying with a local family and at a dormitory.

It was reported in Japan that she will study in the Capital until May next year and that she had been interested in studying overseas for some time.

Dr Ian Astley, Edinburgh University senior lecturer in Japanese, said he was sure fellow students would make her feel welcome.

“We have around 25 students studying Japanese at the university each year. It’s a very popular course and there are many people who understand Japanese so she’ll have plenty of people to speak with.

“The Japanese people admire their royal family but not to the extent of our own. They would never hold a two-day jubilee event.

“These days the royal family are purely symbolic and have ceased to serve an executive constitutional function since after the Second World War.”

Princess Mako should be well aware of just what the Capital has to offer as another Imperial family member, Princess Tsuguko of Takamado, now 26, studied English at Edinburgh University from 2004 to 2008.

ON DUTY

Princess Mako attended the prestigious Gakushuin School for her primary, junior high, and high school education, and is currently a student at International Christian University in Tokyo.

She carried out her first public duty in November last year during a duck hunting event. The Princess took part in the event introducing traditional hunting using nets to 12 guests including the Ghanaian and Kenyan ambassadors to Japan, at the Shinhama Imperial Wild Duck Preserve, east of Tokyo.

In January she joined Emperor Akihito as he offered his annual New Year’s greetings to 70,000 well-wishers who gathered over five sessions at the Imperial Palace.