Setsuko, Princess Chichibu

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Princess Chichibu
Princess Chichibu Setsuko.jpg
Princess Chichibu, c. 1928
BornSetsuko Matsudaira (松平節子)
(1909-09-09)9 September 1909
Walton-on-Thames, England, United Kingdom
Died25 August 1995(1995-08-25) (aged 85)
Tokyo, Japan
Toshimagaoka Imperial Cemetery, Bunkyo, Tokyo
(m. 1928; died 1953)
HouseImperial House of Japan
FatherTsuneo Matsudaira
MotherNobuko Nabeshima

Setsuko, Princess Chichibu (雍仁親王妃勢津子, Yasuhito Shinnōhi Setsuko, born Setsuko Matsudaira (松平節子, Matsudaira Setsuko); 9 September 1909 – 25 August 1995) was a member of the Japanese Imperial Family and the wife of Prince Chichibu, the second son of Emperor Taishō and Empress Teimei. Setsuko was a sister-in-law of Emperor Shōwa and an aunt of the Emperor Akihito.

Early life[edit]

Setsuko Matsudaira was born on 9 September 1909 in Walton-on-Thames, England, into the prominent Matsudaira family. Her father, Tsuneo Matsudaira, was a diplomat and politician who later served as the Japanese ambassador to the United States (1924) and later to Great Britain (1928), and still later, Imperial Household Minister (1936–45, 1946–47). Her mother, Nobuko Nabeshima, was a member of the Nabeshima family. Her paternal grandfather, Katamori Matsudaira, was the last daimyō of the Aizu Domain and head of the Aizu-Matsudaira cadet branch of the Tokugawa. Her maternal grandfather, Marquis Naohiro Nabeshima, was the former daimyō of the Saga Domain. Her mother's elder sister, Itsuko (1882–1976), married Prince Morimasa Nashimoto, an uncle of Empress Kōjun. Despite her prestigious heritage, Setsuko was technically born a commoner, but both sides of her family maintained kinship with distinguished kazoku aristocratic families close to the Japanese Imperial Family.

From 1925 to 1928, Setsuko was educated at the Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C. while her father was ambassador to the United States.[1] Setsuko was fluent in English and was sometimes considered to be a Kikokushijo. Upon her return to Japan, Setsuko was chosen by Empress Teimei to marry her second son, Yasuhito, Prince Chichibu, despite the fact she was a commoner. Setsuko married the Prince after her uncle, Viscount Morio Matsudaira, formally adopted her, thus removing the status incongruity between the prince and his bride.


The Prince and Princess Chichibu on their wedding day.

On 28 September 1928, aged 19, Setsuko wed Prince Chichibu, and became Princess Chichibu. The bride and groom were eighth cousins, thrice removed, as both were descended from Nabeshima Katsushige, the first lord of Saga.[2] Prince and Princess Chichibu had no children, as Princess Chichibu's only pregnancy ended in a miscarriage. However, by all accounts their marriage was filled with love and happiness for each other.

In 1937, the prince and princess were sent on a tour of Western Europe which took several months. They represented Japan at the May 1937 coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in Westminster Abbey and subsequently visited Sweden and the Netherlands as the guests of King Gustav V and Queen Wilhelmina, respectively. Princess Chichibu stayed in Switzerland while her husband met Adolf Hitler in Nuremberg at the end of the trip. Princess Chichibu felt a great love for the United States and for England and, as an anglophile, was greatly saddened by Japan's entry into the Second World War on the side of the Axis powers.


After the Prince's death of tuberculosis in 1953, Princess Chichibu became 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 made several semi-official visits to Great Britain and Sweden.


Princess Chichibu died from heart failure in Tokyo on 25 August 1995, shortly before her 86th birthday. Princess Chichibu's autobiography, which was published posthumously as The Silver Drum: A Japanese Imperial Memoir, was translated in English by Dorothy Britton.

Titles and styles[edit]

Styles of
Princess Chichibu
Imperial Coat of Arms
Reference styleHer Imperial Highness
Spoken styleYour Imperial Highness

Setsuko was styled as "Her Imperial Highness The Princess Chichibu". Prior to her marriage she was styled as "The Honourable Setsuko Matsudaira".


National honours[edit]

Foreign honours[edit]

King Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden invested her with the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Seraphim on 8 April 1969. On 23 July 1962, she became an Honorary Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire. On 9 October 1978, Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon (on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II) invested Princess Chichibu as an Honorary Dame Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George.


Patrilineal descent[edit]

Patrilineal descent

Setsuko's patriline is the line from which she is descended father to son.

The existence of a verifiable link between the Nitta clan and the Tokugawa/Matsudaira clan remains somewhat in dispute.

  1. Descent prior to Keitai is unclear to modern historians, but traditionally traced back patrilineally to Emperor Jimmu
  2. Emperor Keitai, ca. 450–534
  3. Emperor Kinmei, 509–571
  4. Emperor Bidatsu, 538–585
  5. Prince Oshisaka, ca. 556–???
  6. Emperor Jomei, 593–641
  7. Emperor Tenji, 626–671
  8. Prince Shiki, ????–716
  9. Emperor Kōnin, 709–786
  10. Emperor Kanmu, 737–806
  11. Emperor Saga, 786–842
  12. Emperor Ninmyō, 810–850
  13. Emperor Montoku 826–858
  14. Emperor Seiwa, 850–881
  15. Prince Sadazumi, 873–916
  16. Minamoto no Tsunemoto, 894–961
  17. Minamoto no Mitsunaka, 912–997
  18. Minamoto no Yorinobu, 968–1048
  19. Minamoto no Yoriyoshi, 988–1075
  20. Minamoto no Yoshiie, 1039–1106
  21. Minamoto no Yoshikuni, 1091–1155
  22. Minamoto no Yoshishige, 1114–1202
  23. Nitta Yoshikane, 1139–1206
  24. Nitta Yoshifusa, 1162–1195
  25. Nitta Masayoshi, 1187–1257
  26. Nitta Masauji, 1208–1271
  27. Nitta Motouji, 1253–1324
  28. Nitta Tomouji, 1274–1318
  29. Nitta Yoshisada, 1301–1338
  30. Nitta Yoshimune, 1331?–1368
  31. Tokugawa Chikasue?, ????–???? (speculated)
  32. Tokugawa Arichika, ????–????
  33. Matsudaira Chikauji, d. 1393?
  34. Matsudaira Yasuchika, ????–14??
  35. Matsudaira Nobumitsu, c. 1404–1488/89?
  36. Matsudaira Chikatada, 1430s–1501
  37. Masudaira Nagachika, 1473–1544
  38. Matsudaira Nobutada, 1490–1531
  39. Matsudaira Kiyoyasu, 1511–1536
  40. Matsudaira Hirotada, 1526–1549
  41. Tokugawa Ieyasu, 1st Tokugawa Shōgun (1543–1616)
  42. Tokugawa Yorifusa, 1st Lord of Mito (1603–1661)
  43. Matsudaira Yorishige, 1st Lord of Takamatsu (1622–1695)
  44. Matsudaira Yoriyuki (1661–1687)
  45. Matsudaira Yoritoyo, 3rd Lord of Takamatsu (1680–1735)
  46. Tokugawa Munetaka, 4th Lord of Mito (1705–1730)
  47. Tokugawa Munemoto, 5th Lord of Mito (1728–1766)
  48. Tokugawa Harumori, 6th Lord of Mito (1751–1805)
  49. Matsudaira Yoshinari, 9th Lord of Takasu (1776–1832)
  50. Matsudaira Yoshitatsu, 10th Lord of Takasu (1800–1862)
  51. Matsudaira Katamori, 9th Lord of Aizu (1836–1893)
  52. Tsuneo Matsudaira, (1877–1949)
  53. Setsuko Matsudaira, (1909–1995)


  1. ^ Roosevelt, Eleanor (May 28, 1953) "My Day". The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Digital Edition
  2. ^ a b "Genealogy". Reichsarchiv (in Japanese). Retrieved 5 September 2017.

Further reading[edit]

  • Princess Chichibu. The Silver Drum: A Japanese Imperial Memoir. Global Books Ltd. (UK) (May 1996). Trans. Dorothy Britton. ISBN 1-86034-004-0
  • Ema, Shuichi. Chichibu no Miya Hi Setsuko no shogai. Kaibushiki Kaisha Kuppon (1996). ISBN 4-88975-601-9 (Japanese)
  • Fujitani,T. Splendid Monarchy: Power and Pageantry in Modern Japan. University of California Press; Reprint edition (1998). ISBN 0-520-21371-8
  • Lebra, Sugiyama Takie. Above the Clouds: Status Culture of the Modern Japanese Nobility. University of California Press (1995). ISBN 0-520-07602-8

External links[edit]