Japanese Princess Is Sacrificing Her Title For Love By Marrying A Commoner

Princess Mako

by Rebecca Cope |
Published on

It's like the plot of a Hollywood film: Japan's Princess Mako is sacrificing her royal status and title to marry for love.

The eldest granddaughter of current Emperor Akihito is set to wed commoner Kei Komuro, after formally announcing their engagement.

'I've been aware since my childhood that I would lose royal status once I married,' Princess Mako said. 'While I've worked to help the emperor and fulfil duties as a royal family member as much as I can, I've been cherishing my own life.'

The 25-year-old met her husband-to-be in 2012 when they were both studying at the International Christian University in Tokyo.

According to Japanese law, princesses must leave the royal family if they marry a commoner. Ironically, Komuro did once play a prince in a tourism advert. In contrast, the current Emperor Akihito himself broke with tradition by marrying a commoner, the now Empress Michiko.

When previously asked by reporters about his engagement back in May, Komuro, who is a paralegal at a law firm, rather diplomatically said: 'Now is not the time for me to comment, but I want to speak at the right time.'

It is not the first time that a princess has left the royal family for love, but it is far from common practice. In fact, the only other time it has happened was in 2005, when the Emperor's only daughter and Princess Mako's aunt Sayako wed an urban planner from the Tokyo city government.

It's not known how large scale an affair Mako's wedding will be but her aunt's was very low key, with the couple then moving into a one-bedroom apartment afterwards. Much has been made of the fact that after becoming 'a commoner' the former princess had to - shock horror - learn how to drive, shop in a supermarket and even buy furniture for her new abode.

The news is sure to spark fresh debate in Japan about the rules of succession as at present, only men can inherit the throne. This means that there are now even less male heirs in line, as Mako's children won't be included. There are at present only four male members of the family.

The UK recently changed its succession laws to allow first-born daughters to succeed to the throne before their brothers, ahead of the birth of Prince George.

Of course, it's also likely to draw further parallels with the UK - the Duke of Windsor famously abdicated to marry divorcee Wallis Simpson in 1937, while Prince William (and likely Prince Harry) married a commoner. In addition, Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice will certainly marry commoners and will not be booted our of Buckingham Palace for the pleasure.

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