Princess Mako of Akishino has officially announced that she will be abandoning her royal status to marry for love.
The eldest granddaughter of Japanese Emperor Akihito officially confirmed her engagement in a a press conference on the Akasaka Estate in Toyko on Sunday. The princess — who is expected to marry her fiancé, law clerk Kei Komuro, in 2018— met Komuro at Tokyo’s International Christian University and the two have been dating for five years.
During the conference, the princess, 25, and her fiancé talked about their low-key romance.
“First I was attracted by his bright smile,” Mako said, according to The Telegraph.
According to the couple, Komuro proposed after dinner one evening in December 2013. However, news of the engagement — and Mako giving up her royal status — didn’t make headlines until earlier this year.
Mako says she 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.”
The announcement sets in motion the Nosai no Gi, a formal engagement ceremony in which the groom presents gifts.
Mako’s renouncement of royal status will make her the 8th member of the Imperial family to renounce status in order to marry since World War II. Her aunt Sayako, the only daughter of the current emperor, followed a similar path to marriage in 2005.
In early June, Japan’s parliament enacted a one-time change in the law which will allow the 83-year old Akihito to abdicate in favor of his eldest son Crown Prince Naruhito for Japan’s Chrysanthem Throne.
Although Komuro, 25, is not a royal, he was once dubbed the “Prince of the Sea.”
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Akihito’s upcoming abdication, the first in more than two centuries, is widely expected to be announced by December.
Under existing Imperial Household Law, only males may inherit the throne. Following the abdication, Mako’s father, Prince Akishino, 51, will become first in line to the throne. Her 10-year old brother, Prince Hisahito, the current Emperor’s only grandson, will become second in line.