Japan’s princess Mako has tied the knot with her commoner boyfriend Komuro Kei and left the Imperial household. The emperor’s niece has become the first royal to decline a traditional wedding and a tax-funded “goodbye payment.”
The low-key ceremony on Tuesday followed four years of engagement marked by controversy, public protests and a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for Mako. In a statement issued after the wedding, the princess, who is the eldest daughter of the Crown Prince Fumihito and a sister to the heir prince Hisahito, expressed her gratitude to people who’d supported her throughout 30 years of her royal life. However, she did not hesitate to mention the hardships she has faced over the last few years.
“I was scared to see groundless stories spreading. I also felt pain and sadness. I am grateful to those who have continued to believe in Kei despite the difficult situation,” she said.
According to NHK, the couple chose not to go for a live press conference following the advice of Mako’s doctor. Earlier this year the Imperial Household Agency announced that the princess had been diagnosed with PTSD. All the questions for the press conference had to be provided by reporters in advance, in order to let the couple answer them in writing.
The “stories” the princess was referring to were related to the public financial dispute between Komuro’s mother and her former fiancée, who reportedly had loaned her four million yen (just over $35,000) to cover Komuro’s university fees. That dispute led to public disapproval of the marriage and forced the couple to postpone their wedding for a few years. In light of the scandal and of the never-reached financial settlement, the wedding ceremony took place in a government office without any traditional rites. The princess chose to decline $1.3 million of taxpayers’ money, a parting gift normally given to royal women who become commoners.
Under Japanese law, female royals, unlike male ones, lose their status when they marry a commoner. Mako is not the first woman to leave royal household after marrying. In 2005 her aunt Sayako, formerly Princess Nori, the only daughter of Japan’s then-Emperor Akihito, renounced her imperial title to marry Yoshiki Kuroda.
On Tuesday a few dozen protesters took part in a march against the controversial wedding in the nation’s capital, Tokyo.
~100 demonstrators gathered in Tokyo to protest the marriage of Japan's Princess Mako to Kei Komura.
After a 3 year delay, they're finally set to marry on Oct 26, but it's been extremely divisive in Japan
The gossip against Komura & his mother continueshttps://t.co/oqIfEJu9VL
— Selina Wang (@selinawangtv) October 11, 2021
Mako and her husband are planning to move to New York where Komuro has recently started working. In order to do so the former princess has to obtain her first ever passport, and an American visa.