The female macaque was born at Takasakiyama Natural Zoological Gardens, in southern Japan, just a day after the Duchess of Cambridge had given birth to Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana – the new fourth in line to the British throne. The zoo immediately followed its usual tradition of asking the public to vote for the name of its first newborn macaque monkey of the year.

And, following extensive media coverage of the royal baby, ‘Charlotte’ duly topped the poll – albeit with a less than overwhelming 59 of the total 853 votes cast. Other frontrunners were ‘Kei’, after Japanese tennis player Kei Nishikori, and ‘Elsa’, after a character in the Disney film ‘Frozen’.

But the decision to name the macaque Charlotte provoked outrage as the zoo was inundated with a barrage of emails and phone calls from other members of the public who felt it was disrespectful to the British royal family to name a monkey after a princess. Kyoto News reported that many people had demanded a retraction, with some observing that the Japanese people would not be impressed to see a British monkey named after a member of their own imperial family.

Now the zoo has apologised for any monkey business in a statement on its website. It says it takes the concerns seriously, and is considering a possible name change for Charlotte.