Being a Princess

The ancient city of Yogyakarta (pronounced and sometimes spelt Jogjakarta) in Indonesia is the sole surviving sultanate of the country.

The Kraton has a free cultural performance every day for visitors 

The sultan,Hamengkubuwono X (10th) is a forward-looking individual, married to Queen Hemas and with five daughters.
He set the example by marrying only one woman he loved, making polygamy a long-accepted practice now shunned, and has placed his daughters in positions to some day lead the sultanate, breaking the male mould.

Visiting the Kraton Yogyakarta (or Palace) is possible for anyone taking a trip to the city. In fact it is a place not to be missed as it filled with culture and lovely architecture.

Back gate of the Kraton which is has a few food stalls and houses

The wandering visitor may miss among the crowd, a young woman who may be hurrying to one of the side buildings that serve as offices, or maybe she’s walking around taking photos.

GKR Hayu

GKR Hayu or Gusti Hayu fingers souvenier badges of the royal crest which she gave as mementoes while pausing a moment at the archives office of the Royal Kraton which she leads.

Casual as she may appear, she is a princess. A true- blue royal descended from the kings whose photos hang in a gallery on the Kraton grounds that visitors can wander through.

She laughs a lot. But she also seems a little sad.

Along with her eldest sister who is tipped to be the next to take the throne (and that would be a HUGE cultural and social change) we had a big laugh over little girls who always say “I want to be a princess”.

Gusti Magkubumi or Crown Princess is 10 years older to Gusti Hayu and is a gorgeous woman who’s mother to a teen

There are things a princess can’t do, like stay over at a friend’s place or simply be liked for who she is as someone is always hoping to get something from a royal connection.

It was no surprise to hear that the princess, who’s a geeky borderline tomboy, met her husband online. A place she feels very safe and comfortable in, and where no one can really tell if she is a princess.

The toughest part of being a princess are the nay-sayers.

You know, the ones who would ask why the princess is so dumb, and when she does something great – like top the class – say that it was probably because the people had to, since it was the princess?

Gusti Hayu excelled in sport. She made me understand why too even some of Britain’s royal family are into sport. Once you cross the finish line or complete the circuit perfectly as given, she said, the effort and victory is all yours and rightfully earned. There can be no damp blanket who says the win was because she’s a royal.

Princess always seem genteel. But they are tough. They have to be, deep inside. And they yearn to be like everyone else.

So she’d sneak out for midnight snacks. Drive around in an ordinary car. And smiles when people stare in awe at a princess who may have dropped by for a good coffee.

Gusti Hayu was very patient and game to be on the other side of a camera for a few hours

I had expected a young woman who was dressed to the nines (she’s happier in a T-shirt), a little distant and serious. Turned out, it was me who was all that.


Gusti Hayu (left) and Gusti Mangkubumi (right)

When the princess, crown princess and I sat down – we talked food, kids and clothes. Just three women, pretty ordinary. Except they were pretty but not ordinary.