In an act of pure love, Princess Mako officially announced this week that she would be abandoning the throne to marry a commoner! The Japanese royal smiled as she proclaimed her engagement to fiancé law clerk Kei Komuro at the Akasaka East Residence in Tokyo on Sept 3. While Emperor Akihito's eldest granddaughter's choice to marry a non-royal costs her the status, the princess seems content in her decision.
Under Japanese law, female members of the Imperial family have to relinquish their royal title if they choose to marry a commoner. "I was aware since my childhood that I'll leave a royal status once I marry," Time wrote that the 25-year-old told reporters at the conference. "While I worked to help the emperor and fulfil duties as a royal family member as much as I can, I've been cherishing my own life."
Her husband-to-be, also 25, revealed to the press that he proposed back in December 2013, after dinner one evening. The private pair met as students at Tokyo's International Christian University merely a year prior. "I was first attracted to his bright smiles that seemed like the sun," the princess happily said. "It would be nice to have a warm and comfortable household with Mr. Komuro, so that we can make a family full of smiles."
The announcement sets in motion a traditional act of betrothal called Nosai no Gi. This formal engagement ceremony will have Kei presenting several gifts to the palace to make his proclamation of love to the princess official. Princess Mako’s abdication of royal status makes her the eighth member of the family to do so in order to marry since World War II. Her Aunt Sayako, the only daughter of the current emperor, followed a similar journey to marriage in 2005.
The Emperor has expressed his desire to abdicate from the throne soon, and is expected to do so late next year. He will be succeeded by his oldest son, Crown Prince Naruhito. Next in line is Prince Akishino, Mako's father. The only other person left in the line of succession is Mako's younger brother, ten-year-old Prince Hisahito since all Akihito's other grandchildren are women.