Princess will give up royal title to marry a commoner

Japanese Emperor Akihito’s oldest grandchild, Princess Mako, said she is getting married to a university classmate who won her heart with bright smiles and sincerity.

Mako and fiance Kei Komuro, both 25, said that their relationship started when the princess sat behind him at a campus meeting five years ago at Tokyo’s International Christian University, where they graduated.

‘First I was attracted by his bright smiles like the sun,’ Mako said, smiling shyly. They talked for the first time at the event ahead of a study-abroad programme, and then started dating. Over time, she said she learned he is ‘a sincere, strong-minded, hard worker with a big heart,’ Mako said.

The couple had a long-distance relationship while studying overseas – Mako in Britain and Komuro in the US – for one year. Then Komuro proposed to her after dinner in December.

Mako has since introduced him to her parents, Prince Akishino, second in line to the Chrysanthemum throne, and Princess Kiko, as someone she wished to ‘share her future with.’
Komuro said he was so thankful and happy to have been accepted by her parents, and her grandparents, Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko. Komuro, a legal assistant who loves playing jazz piano, pledged to have ‘a relaxed and peaceful’ home together.

Details of their wedding have not been decided, and palace officials say the ceremony is expected sometime around autumn next year after a series of rituals, including one that authorizes the engagement.

The happy news is not necessarily good news for the future of a royal family facing concerns about a declining population to keep their 2,000-year-old bloodline going.

Mako is expected to lose her royal status after marrying Komuro, who is a commoner.