Japanese princess marries commoner, gives up title

Published October 27, 2021
TOKYO: Japan’s former princess Mako and her husband Kei Komuro pictured at the start of the press conference at which they announced their marriage.—AFP
TOKYO: Japan’s former princess Mako and her husband Kei Komuro pictured at the start of the press conference at which they announced their marriage.—AFP

TOKYO: Japan’s Princess Mako, the emperor’s niece, married her college sweetheart on Tuesday, giving up her royal title and saying she was determined to build a happy life with her “irreplaceable” husband after a tumultuous engagement.

At a news conference with husband and commoner Kei Komuro marked by unusual candour for Japan’s royal family, Mako said her marriage to Komuro had been inevitable despite the widespread opposition to it.

Mako — now known as Mako Komuro — was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder earlier this year after an engagement plagued by a money scandal, intense media scrutiny and a three-year separation from her fiancé.

“Kei is irreplaceable for me. For us, marriage is a necessary choice to live while cherishing our hearts,” Mako told a news conference.

She said “incorrect” reporting on her new husband had caused her “great fear, stress and sadness”.

“The flow of arbitrary criticism of Kei’s actions, as well as one-sided speculation that ignored my feelings, made falsehoods somehow seem like reality and turn into an unprovoked story that spread,” she added.

The two, 30, were married in the morning after an official from the Imperial Household Agency (IHA), which runs the family’s lives, submitted paperwork to a local office registering their marriage.

Royal marriages usually involve a series of formal ceremonies and a celebration, but the two forewent all rituals and even turned down the $1.3 million usually given to women who leave the family.

During the news conference, Komuro pledged to protect and support Mako. “I love Mako. I want to spend the only life I have with the one I love.”

The two announced their engagement in 2017 at a news conference, where the smiles they exchanged won the hearts of the nation. But things soon turned sour as tabloids reported on a money scandal involving Komuro’s mother, prompting the press to turn on him.

The marriage was postponed, and he left Japan for law studies in New York in 2018, keeping in touch with Mako through the Internet. They were finally reunited this month.

Television footage earlier showed Mako, wearing a pastel dress and pearls, saying goodbye to her parents and 26-year-old sister, Kako, at the entrance to their home. Though all wore masks in line with Japan’s coronavirus protocol, her mother could be seen blinking rapidly, as if to fight off tears.

Mako bowed formally to her parents, while her sister grabbed her shoulders and the two shared a long embrace.

Komuro, dressed in a crisp dark suit and tie, bowed briefly to camera crews gathered outside his home as he left in the morning. His casual demeanour on returning to Japan in September, including a ponytail which was cut off before the marriage, had sent tabloids into a frenzy.

Published in Dawn, October 27th, 2021



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