Crown Princess Masako of Japan attends royal garden party for first time in 12 years

After 12 years of missing the big occasion, Crown Princess Masako of Japan attended the biannual royal garden party hosted by Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko in Tokyo on Thursday. The Crown Princess isn't often seen at major royal functions since she was diagnosed with stress-induced “adjustment disorder” by a royal doctor in 2004.

The discreet 51-year-old Princess looked elegant in a fuchsia suit and hat as she attended the autumn garden party at the Akasaka Imperial Gardens alongside her husband Crown Prince Naruhito.

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Crown Princess Masako attended the royal garden party with her husband Crown Prince Naruhito for the first time in 12 years Photo: Getty Images

The garden party is held twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall, and Crown Princess Masako last attended the event in October 2003.

In a statement released about the Princess’ condition on her 51st birthday in December 2014, she said that she is "slowly but steadily" recovering for the debilitating illness that has affected her for years.

Not much information has been released about the former diplomat's ailment, but in 2004, her mother-in-law Empress Michiko said: "When a member of a family is suffering, it is a source of sadness for everyone in the family. It’s not only I, but all the members of our family who wish for the crown princess’ recovery and want to be of help to her."

Masako was last seen at the annual garden party in 2003 Photo: Getty Images

The mom-of-one has only be seen at a handful of public events. In 2013, she made her first overseas trip in 11 years to attend the coronation of Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands. A year later she attended a state banquet, the first since 2005, to welcome the Dutch King and Queen to Japan.

Masako, who is only the second commoner to marry into Japan’s royal family, met husband Crown Prince Naruhito during her time at the University of Tokyo.

Despite turning down him down twice, the Harvard-graduate eventually accepted the Prince’s marriage proposal and the two tied the knot in a traditional ceremony in June, 1993. In 2001, the royal couple welcomed their first and only child, Princess Aiko.

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