After a long wait, Princess Mako, a niece of Emperor Naruhito, will finally get married Tuesday to her longtime fiance, Kei Komuro, a commoner.
Princess Mako, the daughter of Crown Prince Akishino and Crown Princess Kiko, began dating Komuro nine years ago.
But the couple, who both turned 30 this month, will reportedly not hold a wedding ceremony or the other related rituals that are traditionally conducted for an imperial marriage.
The Imperial Household Agency has also accepted Princess Mako’s request not to receive the payment of around ¥150 million that is guaranteed by law when a royal leaves the imperial household.
After they register their marriage and complete all other related legal procedures, the pair are scheduled to hold a news conference at a Tokyo hotel the same day.
Under the Imperial Household Law, introduced in 1947, female members of the imperial family have no succession rights to the chrysanthemum throne and must leave the family if they marry commoners.
Princess Mako, who has never been logged in the nation’s family registration system, will now see her name imprinted in a koseki (family registry) for the first time. From here on, she will be known as Mako Komuro and will also obtain her first passport, a document she did not need as an imperial.
Princess Mako is often described as a lively leader type by her former classmates.
One woman who was a classmate of the princess at Gakushuin Primary School told Jiji Press that when she was bullied by a boy there, it was the princess who helped her. “She came between the bully and me and said, ‘Stop it.’ She was cool and dependable.”
Unlike many other members of the imperial family, who traditionally go on to study at Gakushuin University, Princess Mako chose to go to International Christian University in western Tokyo after graduating from Gakushuin Girls’ Senior High School.
When her homeroom teacher in high school asked why she chose ICU, the young princess reportedly said that her imperial duties frequently brought her into contact with people from overseas and that she wanted to refine her international way of thinking. ICU has a diverse student body composed of many foreign students and Japanese returnees from abroad.
The princess and Komuro first met at ICU in 2012 and started dating when they were both preparing to participate in exchange programs abroad.
During their first joint news conference in 2017, the pair described their relationship in a romantic way, comparing it to that of the sun and moon.
“I was first attracted to his bright smiles that seemed like the sun,” she said. Komuro reciprocated, saying, the princess “has been quietly watching over me like the moon.”
The couple will move out of the Akasaka Estate after their marriage is registered and move to New York, where Komuro lives. In May, Komuro graduated with a Juris Doctor from Fordham University law school in New York and is already working for a law firm. He will be promoted to attorney, pending the results of his bar exam in July. The results are expected by December.
Because Princess Mako has a master’s degree in museum studies and worked at a museum at the University of Tokyo, she will likely try to get a similar job in New York.
The princess will be the third female member of the imperial family to marry a commoner since her aunt, former Princess Nori, the younger sister of the emperor, did so in 2005. The former princess is now Sayako Kuroda, the wife of Yoshiki Kuroda, an urban planning official at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.