Family

Japanese Princess Chooses Love — Leaves Her Royal Status High and Dry

Marries commoner at Shinto-style wedding at Tokyo's Meiji Shrine — 'I am awed by how blessed I am'

Image Credit: KOJI SASAHARA/AFP/Getty Images

This isn’t a story you read every day.

Japan’s Princess Ayako of Takamado married commoner businessman Kei Moriya on Monday — even though imperial law requires the renouncement of her royal status to do so, multiple outlets including The Japan Times reported.

“I am awed by how blessed I am,” Ayako said, according to CNN’s reporting.

“I will leave the imperial family today, but I will remain unchanged in my support for his majesty and her majesty,” she added.

The pair exchanged vows in a ritual-rich ceremony at Shibuya, Tokyo’s Meiji Shrine, a temple where Ayako’s great-grandfather Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shoken, are worshipped.

Ayako is the third daughter of the late Prince Takamando, Emperor Akihito’s cousin. She is seventh in line for the throne prior to his death, the Express explained.

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Unlike men, women lose their royal titles, status, and allowance upon marrying commoners, according to Imperial House Law.

Though she will not carry her royal status into her new marriage, she will receive about $950,000 in a lump-sum payment to maintain her standard of living, The Japan Times explained.

The 28-year-old (former) princess is the youngest daughter of Emperor Akihito’s late cousin.

Her groom, 32-year-old Kei Moriya, is an employee of the shipping company Nippon Yusen KK.

Moriya is a board member at the nonprofit Children Without Borders organization, according to The Times.

The pair were introduced last December by Ayako’s mother, Princess Hisako, who was hoping to encourage her daughter’s interest in international welfare initiatives.

Though more than 1,000 people gathered to wish the couple well, the actual ceremony was a private affair attended by only about 30 people.

The Shinto ceremony included rituals such as the exchange of nuptial sake cups, presentation of a sacred Tamagushi branch, and the exchange of vows and rings, CNN noted.

Ayako’s resignation of royal status from the world’s oldest monarchy, along with the upcoming abdication of Japan’s Emperor Akihitio, has reignited succession controversy — along with debate over rules and laws defining women’s roles in the country’s monarchy.

“I am filled with happiness,” the bride said after the ceremony.

Akihito’s eldest son, Crown Prince Naruhito, is set to ascend to the Chrysanthemum Throne this spring.

Though Ayako may no longer officially be a princess, her new groom seems intent on ensuring his bride feels like one — and Ayako appears thrilled with the prospect.

“I want us to work together, hand in hand, to create a family filled with smiles,” Moriya told reporters on his hopes for helping Ayako adjust to life as a commoner.

“I am filled with happiness,” the bride said after the ceremony.

Michele Blood is a Flemington, New Jersey-based freelance writer and a regular contributor to LifeZette.

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