The wedding of Princess Mako of Japan takes place in October. But this is not a fairy tale.
TOKYO – Anyone who dreams of being a princess should probably chat with Princess Mako of Japan.
On Friday, the agency that manages the affairs of Japan’s royal family announced that the Princess, Emperor Naruhito’s 29-year-old niece, will marry her fiance, a commoner named Kei Komuro, on October 26.
It’s a long time to come. The couple, who first met in college, have been engaged since 2017 – but going to the chapel has meant a murderous glove of media scrutiny and savage public commentary on Mr. Komuro to be the wife of an imperial daughter.
The pressure on the couple was so intense that the princess was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported.
No horse, no carriage
If you expect glitz, be prepared to be disappointed. There will be no royal wedding. Instead, Princess Mako intends to forgo her royal heritage and settle into a normal life in New York City, where Mr. Komuro, 29, works at a law firm after studying at Fordham.
It’s hard to blame her. His engagement was dissected endlessly and with disapproval, and his family, citing negative public opinion, expressed little public support for the game.
The couple’s wedding, originally slated for 2018, was postponed after reports that Mr Komuro’s mother owed a former fiance $ 36,000. Some of this money, according to the press, had been used to pay for Mr. Komuro’s education.
The case led to insinuations that Mr Komuro was a gold digger, an image he struggled to shake off.
At the request of his future father-in-law, Crown Prince Akishino, he released a 28-page document in April explaining the loan, and his lawyer later promised Mr Komuro would pay it back. But the damage had been done for a long time.
Harry and Meghan, they are not
The Japanese royal family has little star power and has largely avoided the drama surrounding the British royal family.
The family, the world’s oldest royal line, has only served ceremonially since the end of WWII, and it tends towards carefully managed appearances and oblique statements.
Princess Mako and Mr Komuro are unlikely to appear with Oprah Winfrey or get a Netflix production deal, as the world’s most famous royal renunciators Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have done.
Hungry for gossip, the Japanese tabloids find a friend even in the smallest number.
The most recent scandal concerns a ponytail. After Mr. Komuro, who was last seen wearing a boy’s mid-length headdress, was spotted in New York City with his long hair tied behind his back, his new look grabbed the headlines.
The tabloids have published photos of Mr. Komuro’s head from all angles. Japanese Twitter exploded with scathing comments, and news anchors said the hairstyle was unworthy of a princess beau.
Keep your $ 1.4 million
Apparently fed up even before the last hubbub, Princess Mako has decided to abandon all the traps of royal life.
Even in the happiest case, Japanese law decrees that women who marry commoners must be pruned from the family tree. No woman can sit on the Chrysanthemum Throne, which must be occupied by a man of the male line – currently only the Crown Prince and his son are eligible.
The same laws that will force Princess Mako out of royalty also entitle her to official ceremonies to mark her departure and a dowry of around $ 1.4 million to start her new life.
Princess Mako will forgo both the ceremony and the payment. She is the first of the Japanese royal family to do so since the end of World War II.
Instead, the couple will register their marriage in Tokyo and retire later this year to New York City, where Mr Komuro recently started working at Manhattan law firm Lowenstein Sandler and is awaiting his results on the New York Bar.
Princess Mako, who holds an MA in art museum and gallery studies from the University of Leicester in Britain and is pursuing a doctorate at Tokyo International Christian University, has not announced her plans, although that there has been speculation that she might find working in the art world in New York. She has spent the past five and a half years working in a museum at the University of Tokyo.
Running for outings
The princess is far from the first woman to have sought to escape the royal microscope.
Empress Masako, a former Harvard and Oxford-trained diplomat, has turned away from public spotlight and scrutiny over whether she will produce a male heir.
Princess Mako will be the ninth woman in the Japanese royal family to marry a commoner since new laws governing the royal family came into force after World War II.
In a 1965 interview with The Asahi Shimbun, a Japanese newspaper, Takako Shimazu, the youngest daughter of the wartime Emperor of Japan, Hirohito, said that she had found peace for two years in Washington, DC, where her husband worked as a banker.
“I’m happier than when I lived in Japan,” she said. “As a citizen, there is no mental pressure.”
The most important thing about the change, she said later, was that “I was able to live without attracting people’s attention, quietly.”
The report was provided by Hisako Ueno, Makiko Inoue and Hikari Hida.