Royalty and statesmen




Playfully puffing out her cheeks and clearly focusing on the day ahead, Aiko looked like any other four-year-old being escorted to school by her dad
Photo: © AFP
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Crown Prince Naruhito walks hand-in-hand with his daughter. The pair's relationship is very different from the more formal approach which has characterised relations between imperial parents and their offspring in the past
Photo: © AFP


23 JUNE 2006

The ongoing debate over whether Japan's Princess Aiko will one day become Empress seemed a million miles away when the youngster was snapped hand-in-hand with her father this week. Even the rainy weather did little to dampen her spirits as the four-year-old, with an umbrella clasped firmly in her other hand, strolled up the pathway of Gakushuin Kindergarten in Tokyo.

Just two months have passed since she arrived, with a slightly apprehensive look on her face, for her first day at the institution. On that occasion her mum Crown Princess Masako was on hand to provide moral support, but the youngster has clearly gained confidence since then.

This time around it was Crown Prince Naruhito's turn to escort his daughter, and if the contented look on his face was anything to go by, the first-in-line was thoroughly enjoying the chance to spend some quality time with his favourite girl.

Japan's royal fans are meanwhile looking forward with bated breath to the arrival of Aiko's new cousin in a few months time. The news that her aunt Princess Kiko was pregnant caused quite a stir in the Far Eastern nation back in February, as the baby will become second in line if he is a boy. Prior to the announcement political leaders had been working on an amendment to the constitution to allow girls access to the Chrysanthemum Throne, but those plans have now been put on hold until the child's sex is revealed.

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