Princess Mako of Japan Breaks Silence on Leaving Royal Family to Marry Commoner: 'Starting a New Life'

The former royal also addressed the comparisons made to Meghan Markle and Prince Harry

Princess Mako
Kei Komuro and Princess Mako. Photo: SHIZUO KAMBAYASHI/AFP via Getty Images

Japan's former Princess Mako and Kei Komuro are ready to begin their next chapter as a married couple.

The niece of the Emperor Naruhito wed Komuro in a subdued ceremony on Tuesday, opting to give up her royal status in order to marry a commoner. She also turned down a $1.3 million payout from the Japanese government that is traditionally paid to royal women who lose their royal status when they marry.

The Imperial Household Agency (IHA) explained that Mako and her now-husband did not want to have a big wedding "because their marriage is not celebrated by many people."

Mako and Komuro, both 30, appeared in front of journalists for a press conference following the ceremony and addressed the controversy surrounding their relationship. In addition to Mako giving up her royal title, the wedding was delayed due to a dispute over money between Komuro's mother and her former fiancé concerning his having financed Komuro's education — inviting speculation about whether Komuro's marital intentions were fueled by money.

"We will be starting a new life," Princes Mako told the press. "I am sure we will encounter difficulties along the way. But just as we have until now, I want to continue joining forces [with Kei], and walking together side by side."

princess Mako, Kei Komuro
Princess Mako and Kei Komuro. STR/JIJI PRESS/AFP via Getty

"Our loyalty to each other is thanks to our devotion to one another and thanks to the presence of all those who supported us," she continued. "There are many who understand the difficulty of living while protecting our hearts. I hope that we can create a society where we can all live and support each other's feelings."

The couple is likely to relocate to the United States. Komuro graduated from Fordham School of Law in New York City this year and currently works for law firm Lowenstein Sandler LLP. He recently completed the New York state bar exam and is awaiting his results.

Komuro also shared his plans to start a family with his bride.

"I would like to make a warm family life with Mako," he said. "At the same time, I would like to do everything in my power to support her. During happy times and even those that are not, I would like to stand by her, and be an invaluable part of her existence."

Princess Mako
Princess Mako in 2019. AFP/ KAZUHIRO NOGI / POOL/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The couple's decision to leave the royal family and relocate to the U.S. has drawn comparisons to Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, who stepped back as senior members of the British royal family and moved to California last year.

When asked about the comparison — and the possibility of doing an interview like the one Meghan and Harry gave with Oprah Winfrey earlier this year — Mako replied, "It is sad for me to receive this sort of question, which may give the impression that false information is a fact. We have never considered our engagement to be a 'scandal,' though unfortunately there have been some disputes."

"We have been horrified, scared and saddened by the fact that false information has been taken as fact and that unfounded stories have spread," she continued. "As for the comparison, I don't have any particular thoughts. I would like to refrain from answering any questions about my future personal life. I am not considering giving any interviews at the moment. What I would like is just to lead a peaceful life in my new environment."

Princess Mako
Kei Komuro and Princess Mako. SHIZUO KAMBAYASHI/AFP via Getty Images

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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.

Recently, the palace announced that Princess Mako was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder in the wake of negative media coverage.

"Regarding the criticism online and in the media, I felt a strong fear that an unwarranted story and mistaken information for some reason was being presented as the truth," Mako said on Tuesday. "I decided to publicly announce my PTSD due to its relationship to the wedding. My condition is currently not entirely good by any means. But thanks to the help of those around me, I have somehow managed to make it to today. Kei has also supported me and encouraged me."

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