Japan's Princess Mako reportedly has plans to marry her long-term boyfriend Kei Komuro. And while this is happy news for the 25-year-old royal, a marriage with a commoner would result in the princess losing her royal title and having to leave the imperial family, as stipulated by the Imperial House Law. According to Japan Times, Mako is set to be engaged to her former classmate Kei, and the couple are expected to marry next year. The Imperial Household Agency has also confirmed the report.
Mako and Kei met as students at the International Christian University in Tokyo, where the princess graduated with a bachelor's degree in art and cultural heritage. The Imperial Household Agency confirmed that boyfriend Kei now works at a law firm. He made waves at university, starring as the 'Prince of the Sea' in a beach tourism campaign for the city of Fujisawa, south of Tokyo.
Kei has reportedly already asked Mako for her hand in marriage, although an engagement won't become official until a ceremonial exchange of gifts. Mako is the eldest grandchild of Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko and her imminent engagement will be the first among the couple's four grandchildren. But Japan's centuries-old law requires a princess to give up her title if she marries a commoner. The last to do so was Mako's aunt Sayako, the only daughter of Emperor Akihito who married city planner Yoshiki Kuroda in 2005.
According to imperial law, only male heirs can inherit the throne, of which there are three. Crown Prince Naruhito is first-in-line. Mako's engagement reports have reignited concerns about the shrinking size of the imperial family, which currently has 19 members, 14 of which are female. If unmarried princesses marry commoners, they will be required to leave the imperial family, which has raised concerns that there will not be enough family members to carry out public duties.