Japan’s Princess Mako starts Central America visit
Princess Mako, the 30-year-old niece of Japan’s Emperor Naruhito, tied the knot with her former university classmate Kei Komuro four years after their relationship was made public. News of their marriage was shared on Tuesday morning by the Imperial Household Agency.
As Mr Komuro – who is also 30 – is a commoner, Mako has renounced her royal status to marry him – in accordance with Japanese law demanding female members of the Imperial family to forfeit their titles in this circumstance.
Male royals don’t need to give up their titles if they decide to marry a person without a noble background.
Despite being the niece of the emperor, Mako decided to skip the usual rites of a Japanese royal wedding.
And, she became the first Japanese royal to also turn down the lump sum payment, drawn from the country’s tax coffers, normally given to princesses renouncing their titles for marriage, amounting to £1million (150m yen).
Princess Mako’s relationship with Kei Komuro has drawn comparisons with Meghan and Harry
Princess Mako leaving her home in Tokyo
Mr Komuro and Mako announced their engagement in 2017 and were due to marry in November 2018.
This relationship has since been marred by public criticism.
The ceremony was postponed following claims the groom’s mother had reportedly taken a loan from her ex-fiancé and did not pay him back.
However, in April Mr Komuro said both he and his mother had believed the money was a gift but had since proposed making a settlement payment to solve the issue.
The imperial palace denied this was the reason behind the delay – but Crown Prince Fumihito, Mako’s father and heir presumptive to the throne, said it was important for this problem to be dealt with before the nuptials.
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Princess Mako and Kei Komuro during a press conference
BBC’s Tokyo correspondent Rupert Wingfield-Hayes believes the real reason behind the animosity and scrutiny drawn against Mr Komuro is linked to his humble background, which some conservative Japanese don’t deem appropriate for a niece of the emperor.
Following their nuptials, the couple held a brief press conference in which Mako apologised for any trouble her marriage had brought to people.
Declaring her love for her new husband, she said: “I am very sorry for the inconvenience caused and I am grateful for those… who have continued to support me.
“For me, Kei is irreplaceable – marriage was a necessary choice for us.”
Japanese protesting against the nuptials
Princess Mako is 30
Similarly, Mr Komuro spoke about his love for Mako, saying: “I love Mako. We only get one life, and I want us to spend it with the one we love.”
He also criticised the intense media scrutiny and public criticism he and Mako had been experiencing over the past four years, saying: “I feel very sad that Mako has been in a bad condition, mentally and physically, because of the false accusations.”
The Imperial Household Agency had previously said the media attention experienced by the couple had caused the princess to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.
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Despite this, news of their wedding sparked protests in Japan, with people being pictured protesting against the union in a Japanese park, with some holding placards and chanting slogans against Mr Komuro.
Mako left her residence in Tokyo at 10am local time (2am BST) and was seen bowing several times to her parents and lovingly hugging her younger sister.
Her father was also filmed waving at her as she was being driven away.
The newlyweds will live for a short period of time in the Japanese capital before relocating to New York, where Mr Komuro works as a member of a law firm.
Kei Komuro works for a law firm in New York
Mako’s decision to give up the taxpayer’s payment and relocate to the US to live a more private life far from criticism has prompted comparisons with Meghan and Prince Harry.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex also experienced intense public scrutiny and, similarly to what happened to Mr Komuro, Meghan’s life before becoming a royal attracted the attention and interest of the public and media.
In January 2020, the pair announced their intention to renounce to the Sovereign Grant and become financially independent while living between North America and the UK.
At the end of March 2020, they officially stepped down as senior royals and relocated to California, where they started their new life free to pursue profitable deals while also continuing their charity work.