When Japan’s Princess Mako gave up royal status to marry a common man

In a decision that has evoked mixed reaction, Japan’s Princess Mako has chosen to give up her royal status so that she can marry the man she fell in love with. Pained by the harsh reactions and opposition to her choice, Mako went in on a simple ceremony on Tuesday October 26, 2021 followed by a short press conference where the couple read out brief statements. No questions were allowed since Mako, still recovering from what palace doctors described as traumatic stress disorder that she developed after seeing negative media coverage about her marriage and harsh allegations against her would be husband Kei Komuro, expressed unease.

Mako, 30, met Komuro at Tokyo International Christian University where they were classmates. They fell in love and in 2017 announced their intention to marry the following year. However, the wedding could not take place as some financial dispute involving Komuro’s mother cropped up. 

The financial angle triggered rumours that Komuro was marrying the princess for money. To put an end to such an impression once and for all, Mako has also declined the 140 million yen (roughly $1.23 million) payout she was entitled for leaving the imperial family. Mako, the niece of Emperor Naruhito, is the first imperial family member since World War II to not receive the payment while marrying a commoner. 

After the wedding, which was held without the customary banquet or even rituals, Mako left the palace the same day wearing a pale blue dress and holding a bouquet. There were emotional moments before she left the palace as she bowed to her parents Crown Prince Akishino and Crown Princess Kiko and hugged her sister Kako. 

The Imperial law allows only male succession and female members must renounce their royal status if they marry a commoner. Critics say this practice has resulted in a decline in the size of the royal family and a shortage of successors to the throne. 

According to reports, a government panel is looking at putting in place a stable succession of the monarchy but they face stiff opposition from conservatives who reject any female succession. As things stand now, after Naruhito, there are only Akishino and his son Prince Hisahito in the line of succession.

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