2021-10-01 08:35:48 A Japanese Princess Is Set to Be Wed. But It’s No Fairy Tale.

A Japanese Princess Is Set to Be Wed. But It’s No Fairy Tale.

TOKYO — Anyone who aspires to be a princess should speak with Princess Mako of Japan.

On Friday, the agency in charge of the affairs of Japan’s royal family announced that the princess, Emperor Naruhito’s 29-year-old niece, would marry her fiancé, a commoner named Kei Komuro, on Oct. 26.

It’s been a long time coming. The couple, who met in college, have been engaged since 2017 — but getting to the chapel has meant enduring a grueling barrage of media scrutiny and scathing public commentary on Mr. Komuro’s suitability as the spouse of an imperial daughter.

The pressure on the couple has been so intense that the princess has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, according to NHK, Japan’s public broadcaster.

No Horses, No Carriage

If you’re looking for pomp and circumstance, you’ll be disappointed. There will be no royal nuptials. Instead, Princess Mako plans to renounce her royal ancestry and live a normal life in New York, where Mr. Komuro, 29, works in a law office after graduating from Fordham University.

It’s difficult to blame her. Her engagement has been endlessly and disapprovingly dissected, and her family has expressed little public support for the match, citing negative public opinion.

The couple’s wedding, which was originally scheduled for 2018, was postponed due to news reports that Mr. Komuro’s mother owed $36,000 to a former fiancé. According to the press, some of that money was used to pay for Mr. Komuro’s education.

Mr. Komuro struggled to shake the perception that he was a gold digger as a result of the affair.

At the urging of his future father-in-law, Crown Prince Akishino, he released a 28-page document outlining the loan in April, and his lawyer later vowed that Mr. Komuro would repay it. But the damage had already been done.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle They are not.

Japan’s staid royal family lacks star power and has largely avoided the dramas that have surrounded the British royals.

Since the end of World War II, the family, the world’s oldest royal line, has only served in a ceremonial capacity, preferring carefully managed appearances and oblique statements.

Princess Mako and Mr. Komuro, like the world’s most famous royal renouncers, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, are unlikely to appear with Oprah Winfrey or land a Netflix production deal.

Japanese tabloids, hungry for gossip, find chum in even the smallest issue.

The most recent controversy involves a ponytail. Mr. Komuro’s new look made front-page news after he was spotted in New York with long hair tied in the back, having previously been seen with a mid-length boyish coif.

Mr. Komuro’s head was photographed from every angle in the tabloids. Japanese Twitter erupted with scathing comments, and newscasters opined that the hairstyle was unfit for a princess’s beau.

You can keep your $1.4 million.

Princess Mako, who appeared to be fed up even before the latest uproar, has reportedly decided to forego all of the trappings of royal life.

Even in the best-case scenario, Japanese law states that women who marry commoners must be removed from the family tree. The Chrysanthemum Throne may not be occupied by a woman; it must be occupied by a man from the male line of succession — currently, only the crown prince and his son qualify.

The same laws that will force Princess Mako out of the royal family will also grant her official ceremonies to mark her departure, as well as a dowry of around $1.4 million to begin her new life.

Both the ceremony and the payment will be skipped by Princess Mako. She is the first member of Japan’s royal family to do so since World War II.

Instead, the couple will marry in Tokyo and relocate to New York later this year, where Mr. Komuro has recently started working at the Manhattan law firm Lowenstein Sandler and is awaiting the results of the New York bar exam.

Princess Mako, who has a master’s degree in art museum and gallery studies from the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom and is pursuing a doctorate at the International Christian University in Tokyo, has not announced her plans, but it has been speculated that she could work in New York’s art world. She has spent the last five and a half years working at the University of Tokyo’s museum.

Exiting the Building

The princess is far from the first woman to seek refuge from the royal spotlight.

Empress Masako, a former diplomat educated at Harvard and Oxford, famously avoided the public spotlight and intense scrutiny over her ability to produce a male heir.

Princess Mako will be the ninth woman from Japan’s royal family to marry a commoner since new royal family laws went into effect following World War II.

In a 1965 interview with The Asahi Shimbun, a Japanese newspaper, Takako Shimazu, the youngest daughter of Japan’s wartime emperor, Hirohito, said that she had found peace during two years living in Washington, D.C., where her husband worked as a banker.

“I’m happier than when I lived in Japan,” she said. “There is no mental pressure as a citizen.”

The most important thing about the change, she said later, was that “I was able to live without garnering people’s attention, quietly.”

Reporting was contributed by Hisako Ueno, Makiko Inoue and Hikari Hida.

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A Japanese Princess Is Set to Be Wed. But It’s No Fairy Tale.