15 NOVEMBER 2006

The world got its first real glimpse of the boy who may one day be emperor of Japan as little Prince Hisahito was presented at a royal shrine on Tuesday by his parents Princess Kiko and Prince Akishino.

The visit to the Shinto shrine in the grounds of Tokyo's Imperial Palace was part of a traditional ceremony for royal babies aimed at promoting healthy growth. Hisahito - who slept through his public debut when he was just nine days old - delighted onlookers as he smiled happily in the arms of his proud mother.

The couple - who also have two daughters, Mako and Kako - were clearly thrilled to be sharing their baby son with the assembled well-wishers. As the only son of his generation to be born into the Imperial family there is a strong possibility that Hisahito, now two-months old, will inherit the Chrysanthemum Throne.

Although the Emperor Akihito's elder son Prince Naruhito and his wife Masako have a four-year-old daughter, Princess Aiko, under present laws she may not inherit. This means Hisahito is third in line after his uncle and father.

Photo: ©
Prince Akishino and Princess Kiko presented their son Hisahito at a shinto shrine in the grounds of the royal palace on TuesdayPhoto: © AFP
Photo: ©
The two-month-old prince, who was dressed in traditional costume, looked the picture of health as he smiled in his mother's armsPhoto: © AFP
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