Japan's Princess Mako marries commoner, loses royal status

Princess Mako bows out of Japan’s royal family as she marries commoner – and APOLOGISES for ‘trouble’ their engagement caused while condemning press coverage that left her with PTSD

  • Japan’s Princess Mako married commoner boyfriend Kei Komuro in Tokyo on Tuesday, giving up her royal title 
  • The wedding, which has sharply divided public opinion in Japan, took place without royal pomp or ceremony  
  • Couple apologised afterwards for any distress they had caused, though Mako did speak out against news reports which she claimed had spread false information about Kei – causing her to suffer from PTSD 
  • Pair now expected to move to US, where Kei recently graduated from university and is working for a law firm 

Japan’s Princess Mako has married her commoner boyfriend – giving up her royal title for the sake of love in a move that has sharply divided public opinion. 

The 30-year-old tied the knot with university sweetheart Kei Komuro in Tokyo on Tuesday after an eight-year engagement in a ceremony stripped of royal pomp and grandeur.

Formerly the Princess of Akishino, she has now taken her husband’s name and will go by Mako Komuro – the first time in her life that she has had a surname.

After the ceremony – attended by her parents Crown Prince Akishino and Crown Princess Kiko, along with her sister Princess Kako – Mako issued a statement saying she was ‘sorry’ for any distress the marriage had caused.

But Mako, who suffered from PTSD during her engagement, also criticised news reports which she said had carried ‘false information’ about her husband, causing her ‘sadness and stress’. 

Japan’s Princess Mako (left) has given up her royal title in order to marry commoner boyfriend Kei Komuro (right) in a ceremony stripped of all pomp and glamour in Tokyo

Mako and Kei have been engaged since 2013 and were due to marry three years ago, but the wedding was delayed by three years following a financial scandal involving Kei’s mother

Mako shares a hug with her mother, Crown Princess Kako of Akishino, as she departs from their residence at the Akasaka Estate in Tokyo on her way to the wedding ceremony

Mako was forced to give up her royal title due to Japanese traditions around marrying commoners, and voluntarily skipped royal wedding traditions and ceremonies along with a £1million payment to which she was entitled

Kei also apologised but said that he loved Mako and would support her throughout their life together.

The couple were due to get married three years ago, but the wedding was delayed following a financial scandal involving an unpaid debt owed by Kei’s mother. 

In the wake of the scandal, he moved to the US to study law and recently graduated from Fordham University in New York, before getting a job at a firm in the city. He returned to Tokyo last month before it was announced that the pair would finally wed.

Mako announced the wedding date earlier this month, saying she would forgo all traditional ceremonies and surrender a £1million payment she was entitled to according to Japanese tradition.

The pair are now expected to move to the US to start a new life together.  

Mako, who turned 30 three days before the wedding, is a niece of Emperor Naruhito. Her father is the Crown Prince and is expected to inherit the throne because Naruhito has only one child – a daughter – and his wife, 57-year-old Empress Masako, is unlikely to have another.

Mako and Komuro were classmates at Tokyo´s International Christian University when they announced in September 2017 that they intended to marry the following year, but the financial dispute surfaced two months later and the wedding was suspended.

The dispute involves whether money his mother received from her former fiancé was a loan or a gift. Mako´s father asked Komuro to clarify, and he wrote a statement defending himself, but it is still unclear if the dispute has been fully resolved.

Komuro, 30, left for New York in 2018 to study law and only returned to Japan last month. His hair, tied in a ponytail, captured attention as a bold statement for someone marrying a princess in the tradition-bound imperial family and only added to the criticism.

Mako has also declined the 140 million yen ($1.23 million) dowry to which she was entitled for leaving the imperial family, palace officials said. She is the first imperial family member since World War II to not receive the payment while marrying a commoner and chose to do so because of the criticism over her marrying a man some consider unfit for the princess.

On Tuesday morning, she left the palace wearing a pale blue dress and holding a bouquet. She bowed outside the residence of her parents, Crown Prince Akishino and Crown Princess Kiko, and her sister Kako, and then the sisters hugged each other.

The Imperial House Law allows only male succession and requires women to renounce their royal status when they marry a commoner, a practice that has reduced the number of royal family members and the successors to the throne.

After Naruhito, there are only Akishino and his son, Prince Hisahito, in the line of succession. A panel of government-appointed experts are discussing a stable succession of the Japanese monarchy, but conservatives still reject female succession or allowing female members to head the imperial family.

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