A Royal Love Story

Annabella Gao ‘23

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s departure from Buckingham Palace in January of 2020 severely redefined the delicate balance between personal and public life in the royal family. Less than two years later, another member of a similarly prominent royal family has kissed her title goodbye.


Princess Mako of Japan, the niece of Emperor Naruhito, married Kei Komuro on October 26, 2021 by formally submitting the couple’s union registration to a government office. Because of Komuro’s status as a commoner, Mako lost her royal title, as dictated by a Japanese law that requires women to leave the royal family after marriage to a non-royal. Mako will take Komuro’s surname [1].


The two met in 2012 while studying at the International Christian University in Tokyo. Mako graduated in 2014, and the couple announced their engagement in 2017. The media was quick to pounce on Komuro and his mother when, that same year, the ex-fiancé of Komuro’s mother accused the two of failing to repay a loan valued at $35,000. Another bout of hysteria in the media occurred when Komuro returned to Japan from law school, with tabloids angrily criticizing his personal style and haircut [2].


Across news articles, many journalists have drawn parallels between this couple’s relationship and that of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, because of the media’s fierce scrutiny that fuels strong opinions of the public. Mako was even diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after navigating through the burdens placed on her by the tabloids [3]. Luckily, the couple was able to steer through these struggles, though Mako did have to sacrifice aspects of her public life.


The Komuros plan on relocating to New York, where Kei works, leaving behind the dwindling Japanese royal family. The current count of members stands at seventeen, and there are only three heirs to the throne: Prince Hitachi, the emperor’s uncle; Crown Prince Akishino; and Prince Hisahito, Mako’s brother [4]. 


With the family’s already waning member count, the departure of Princess Mako signifies a foreboding future for not only the Japanese royal family, but for royalty in general. Royalty has become redefined as a choice rather than an obligation for the young royals who are further down the line of succession. These royals, who make important choices to balance their family ties and their own love and happiness, serve as strong role models for the rest of the world.


[1] – https://www.npr.org/2021/10/26/1049209777/japans-princess-mako-loses-royal-status-after-marrying-a-commoner


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[4] – https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2021/10/26/national/japan-royal-family/