Written by Naina Mahajan, a grade 6 student.
It’s been all over the news recently: a Japanese princess, Ex-Princess Mako, has married a commoner; Kei Komuro. So, I’m sure all of you are wondering why it’s such a big deal?
Who is ex-princess Mako of Akishino?
Princess Mako, now Mako Komuro, is the daughter of Crown Prince Fumihito (brother of the current Japanese Emperor) and Kiko Kawashima, and the older sister of Princess Kako and Prince Hisahito. She was born on the 23rd of October, in 1991 and is currently 30 years old.
What’s all this controversy about her?
Traditionally, members of the Imperial household are expected to marry royals. For a long time, they either married cousins of some sort; or members of the aristocracy. Lately, however, many Imperial family members have been forced to marry commoners because the royal bloodline is slowly becoming narrower and narrower. Moreover, when a female member of the Imperial household marries a commoner, she loses her royal status. However, male members do not.
When Ms. Mako was in college, she met Kei Komuro and they got engaged in 2017. Their wedding was originally planned for November 2018; however, it was postponed for three years following a financial dispute in which Kei Komuro’s mother had borrowed 4 million yen (Rs. 26,31,281.65) from her former fiancé, a lot of which went to pay for her son’s education fees and had supposedly not paid back the sum, thinking it was a gift (as opposed to her former fiancé saying it was a loan). This caused quite a bit of disapproval from the Imperial Household and from the general public. Another thing that stirred up the crowd was Kei Komuro’s sporting a ponytail on his return from the USA. A few tabloid newspapers and social media felt it was unfit for someone who was going to marry a princess to sport a ponytail (the hairstyle being rather unconventional in Japan).
Because of the intense scrutiny faced by the couple, Ms. Mako suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, the Imperial Household Agency was quoted as saying.
The two have planned to move to the USA, where Mr. Komuro has been given a job offer from a top New York law firm. This has given them the nickname ‘Japan’s Harry and Meghan’, after Prince Harry and Meghan Markle also moved to the USA.
Mr. Komuro comes from a modest background, and local Japanese tabloids have spent years simply digging up dirt on his family, after he started dating Ms. Mako, which is shown in the allegations against his mother.
Ms. Mako has refused an Imperial marriage celebration, instead choosing to have the ceremony in a small marriage office in Tokyo. She has also refused the sum of money offered up to 150 million yen (9,81,24,204.34 INR) that is typically given to a member of the Imperial household when they leave. On refusing both the rites and the money, she has become the first female member of the Imperial family to do so.