After four years, Princess Mako finally tied the knot with her college sweetheart Kei Komuro, officially giving up her place in the Japanese royal family.
On Tuesday, Princess Mako, who is the niece of Emperor Naruhito, and Komuro married in a quiet ceremony, skipping any formal, traditional rites that usually accompany Japanese royal weddings. Instead, they registered their union at the local government.
The union officially marked Princess Mako’s formal exit from the Japanese imperial family. In Japan, princesses who marry commoners will lose their royal status and become a normal citizen upon marriage as stated by Imperial Household Law, a statute in Japanese law created in 1947.
In 2017, it was announced that Princess Mako and Komuro were engaged to be married. The original ceremony was scheduled for 2018, however, their union was delayed by three years due a financial dispute regarding the groom’s mother and her former fiancé, who reportedly helped finance Komuro’s education. The controversy made both the royal family and Japanese public quick to be skeptical of the marriage.
The princess’ dramatic departure from the royal family has led the media to draw comparisons to another former royal couple: Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. The couple announced they were leaving the British royal family in January 2020, after years of receiving negative media coverage from the British tabloid press and alleged issues of racism within the royal family against Markle and their son, Archie. After formally leaving in February, the two now reside in California with Archie and newborn daughter Lilibet.
In the last few years, Princess Mako and Komuro have faced heavy backlash from both the public and the media. Earlier this month, palace officials said that the princess was diagnosed with complex post-traumatic stress disorder amid all the media coverage ahead of the wedding.
Traditionally, when royal women lose their royal status by marrying a commoner, the Japanese government endows 150 million yen (around $1.3 million) to help adjust to their new life, but the princess decided to forgo the payment.
Princess Mako, the eldest child of Prince Akishino and Princess Kiko, and Komuro met while they were both students at the International Christian University of Tokyo. Komuro received his law degree from Fordham University in New York earlier this year and currently works for a law firm.
The couple will reportedly leave Japan and start a new life in New York City in the coming weeks.
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