Japan’s Princess Mako weds commoner boyfriend Kei Komuro, loses royal status

Japan’s Princess Mako married her non-royal boyfriend Kei Komuro in a restrained ceremony, formally marking her departure from the royal family.

The couple submitted their registration at the local ward office around 10:00am local time on Tuesday, according to the Imperial Household Agency, forgoing the usual pomp and circumstance of most royal weddings.

The newlyweds are expected to move to New York City, where Komuro works at a law firm.

Mako, who turned 30 over the weekend, announced her engagement with Komuro four years ago. But their union has been plagued by years of controversy, public disapproval and tabloid frenzy over a money scandal involving Komuro’s mother.

In an effort to appease a disapproving public, Mako turned down a one-off million-dollar payout from the government, which she was entitled to as a departing royal.

As the emperor’s niece, Mako wasn’t in line to the throne and under Japanese law, female members of the royal household must give up their titles and leave the palace if they marry a commoner.

Mako, who will no longer be known as princess. She isn’t the first woman to leave the Japanese royal family. The last royal to do so was her aunt, Sayako, the only daughter of Emperor Akihito, when she married town planner Yoshiki Kuroda in 2005.

The couple had planned to marry in 2018, but their wedding was pushed back. The Imperial household said the delay was due to a “lack of preparation,” but others suspect it was due to reports Komuro’s mother failed to pay back $36,000 she borrowed from her former fiancé.

Komuro disputed the account, even releasing a 28-page statement earlier this year, stating his mother believed the money was a gift and that he would pay to settle the dispute. But tabloid gossip had already spiraled to dissect every aspect of his family and his life.

Some Japanese don’t consider the commoner son of a single parent to be worthy of a princess; some media reports even painted him as an untrustworthy gold-digger.

The years of speculation and slurs have taken their toll on Mako. Earlier this month, the palace disclosed that she suffers from complex post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The princess “feels pessimistic and finds it difficult to feel happy due to the persistent fear of her life being destroyed,” Princess Mako’s psychiatrist, Tsuyoshi Akiyama, director of NTT Medical Center Tokyo, told media at the Imperial Household Agency.

Komuro left Japan for law school in New York in 2018, and only returned in September for the wedding. He arrived in Japan sporting long hair tied in a ponytail, which set off a media frenzy.

Princess Mako and Komuro’s retreat from the royal spotlight is being compared to the exit of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry.