Japanese Princess gives up royal status to marry

Princess Mako the elder daughter of Prince Akishino and Princess Kiko will forsake her royalty to marry fiancé Kei Komuro a commoner she met at International Christian University in Tokyo

Princess Mako is Emperor Akihito's eldest granddaughter.

In Japan, female members of imperial family have to lose their status upon choosing a commoner for marriage under a controversial rule, whereas male members are exempted from it.

Princess Mako said Komuro "warmly encourages me", adding, "At the beginning, I was impressed by his shining smile like the sun".

She said: "I was aware since my childhood that I'll leave my royal status once I marry".

The couple, both 25, met when the the princess sat behind him at a campus meeting five years ago at Tokyo's International Christian University, where they graduated.

The couple had a long-distance relationship while studying overseas - Princess Mako in Britain and Mr Komuro in the USA - for one year. He now works at a law firm and is still studying business law at the Hitotsubashi University's gradual school.

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The decision means the princess will have to give up her royal title when they tie the knot. The official announcement was made in a news conference on Sunday by the Imperial Household Agency.

Kei Komuro actually proposed to the Princess in 2013 and now she has spoken about their love for the first time.

According to NHK, the wedding between the Princess and Komuro is expected to take place next year. Japan's Imperiale family was started with wartime emperor Hirohito (1901-1989) and Empress Nagako (1903-2000).

At the request of her parents Prince Akishino and Princess Kiko, who supported Princess Mako's relationship with Komuro, bodyguards from the Imperial Guard that must accompany the princess when she goes out tried to blend into the crowd while performing their duty. But due to the unfortunate torrential rain that flooded northern Kyushu that month, the royal family chose to postpone the announcement.

It has not been revealed what privileges will be lost following her ouster from the Japanese royal family. Speaking to the media, Komuro described the princess as someone who quietly watched over him "like the moon".

Prince Hisahito is now third in line to the throne after his uncle, Crown Prince Naruhito, and his father Prince Akishino.

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