Who is Princess Mako? Gave Up Her Title for Kei Komuro: Their Love Story, in Their Own Words
Princess Mako (R), the eldest daughter of Prince Akishino and Princess Kiko, and her fiancee Kei Komuro (L), smile during a press conference to announce their engagement at the Akasaka East Residence in Tokyo on September 3, 2017. Emperor Akihito’s eldest granddaughter Princess Mako and her fiancé — a commoner — announced their engagement on September 3, which will cost the princess her royal status in a move that highlights the male-dominated nature of Japan’s monarchy. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / Shizuo Kambayashi (Photo credit should read SHIZUO KAMBAYASHI/AFP via Getty Images)

Who is Princess Mako? Gave Up Her Title for Kei Komuro: Mako, former Princess of Japan, and Kei have remained loyal to each other throughout the controversy caused by their decision to marry

Princess Mako’s love don’t cost a thing — not even the $1.3 million Japan offered to pay her when she abdicated her royal title in favor of marrying commoner Kei Komuro.

On Tuesday, Japan’s Princess Mako renounced her royal status to tie the knot with her college sweetheart, commoner Kei Komuro. The couple became engaged in 2013 but did not announce their intention to wed until 2017. Public backlash to Mako’s plans was so strong that it caused her father Fumihito, Prince Akishino (the brother of Japan’s Emperor Naruhito) to withhold his approval of the marriage; the couple postponed the wedding for more than four years but stayed the course.

During the time that their wedding had been postponed, Mako began to experience PTSD from relentless negative public opinion in the media. But three years after their intended wedding date, the former princess, 30, formally lost her royal status when she wed Komuro, 30, after the Imperial Household Agency (IHA) submitted their marriage documents at a local office.

The IHA explained that Mako and her now-husband did not want to have a big, blowout wedding “because their marriage is not celebrated by many people.”

According to Japanese law, women are not eligible to be in the line of the succession for the throne, so there is no impact on the potential heirs to the Chrysanthemum Throne (currently, the only two considered in line for the throne are Mako’s father, Crown Prince Fumihito, and his teenage nephew, Prince Hisahito).

Mako, the Japanese emperor’s niece, also made the decision to forfeit a $1.3 million payout from the Japanese government – a Japanese tradition that occurs when women lose their royal status when they marry (making her the first woman to decline this offer).

 

Princess Mako

Princess Mako, who is now Mako Komuro (after taking the surname of her husband), is not the first person from a royal family to trade in the crown for love (or scandal!).

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle made headlines when the couple opted to exchange a regal life in the U.K. to relocate their family to California. Mako and Komuro are often compared to the British duo due to their decision to leave Japan and move to New York. Komuro graduated from Fordham Law in New York this year and currently works for law firm Lowenstein Sandler LLP. He recently completed the state bar exam for New York and is awaiting his results.

Mako has not announced her plans but holds a masters in Museum Studies from the University of Leicester and has until recently been a researcher at the Museum of Tokyo. First, she will have to obtain a passport, which members of the Japanese royal family do not have.

Mako’s marriage move follows in the footsteps of her older cousin Ayako Moriya (formally Princess Ayako of Japan), who chose to wed shipping executive Kei Moriya in 2018, ultimately giving up her royal title. “I want to support her firmly and hold hands to look forward and build a family full of smiles,” said Moriya at the time.

 

Princess Ayako (R) and her husband Kei Moriya
CREDIT: JIJI PRESS/JAPAN POOL/AFP VIA GETTY

In contrast to the negative reactions Mako and Komuro have received, Akayo thanked the public for its good wishes at the time. “How happy I am that so many people have celebrated [our wedding]. We want to make efforts to become a couple like my mother and father,” Akayo said at the time, adding that her father would have “rejoiced at my marriage.”

In addition, Ayako’s older sister, Princess Noriko, married a commoner (a Shinto priest) in 2014. The Japanese royal family is now down to 17 members — compared to 67 in 1945.

Japans Princess Noriko, Prince Takamado
CREDIT: JIJI PRESS/AFP VIA GETTY

Despite the controversy, Mako and Komuro have been each other’s biggest supporters throughout the past near-decade in the public eye. Here are the sweetest things they’ve said about each other.

It was love at first sight.

The couple first met as students at Tokyo’s International Christian University in 2012 (where she studied art and cultural heritage and obtained a national certificate in curation), during a meeting for a study abroad program. “First I was attracted by his bright smiles like the sun,” she said when they announced their engagement, according to the AP, adding that she soon learned that he was “a sincere, strong-minded, hard worker and he has a big heart.”

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