In a clear break with tradition, Japan's Imperial Household has released private home video footage of young Princess Aiko, the only child of Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako, frolicking with her parents at the royal palace.
Shot by the crown prince in May, the intimate recording shows a laughing Aiko, who will be three years old in December, reciting popular children's rhymes, examining a picture book and playing with her mum as the two happily dance to harp music.
According to palace officials, Naruhito and Masako decided to release the home movie, which was screened on all of Japan's major networks, due to strong media and public interest.
The release of the video is particularly unusual, as Crown Princess Masako, suffering from an "adjustment disorder" – characterised by an abnormal and excessive reaction to stress – has been seen publicly just once in the past nine months. Early in September, the 40-year-old royal, in seclusion at her home, briefly emerged to visit her in-laws, Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, on a "purely private" excursion.