Former Japanese Princess Mako and her new husband, Kei Komuro, arrived in New York City Sunday to begin their new life in the United States.
Mako, who is the niece of Emperor Naruhito and daughter of his younger brother, Crown Prince Fumihito, gave up her royal title, as well as more than $1 million when leaving the imperial family. The couple married last month.
Mako and Komuro got engaged in 2017. The couple postponed their wedding because of a financial scandal involving Komuro’s mother. When they did exchange vows, the ceremony did not feature any of the traditional rituals. The princess said it was a “necessary choice to live while cherishing our hearts.”
The criticism about their relationship was so intense it sparked protests, and Mako was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder due to the backlash.
Mako is not the first royal woman in Japan who has elected to follow her heart at the expense of the crown. But the rules are different for men and women. The country’s emperor and emperor emeritus both married commoners, but they did not have to give up their status.
The former princess and Komuro have also drawn parallels to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, who split with the royal family and left Britain for the United States due to criticism surrounding their marriage.
The union has also shined a light on the succession issue in Japan, where only men can become emperor. The emperor only has one child, Princess Aiko. Mako’s 15-year-old brother, Prince Hisahito, is the emperor's nephew and the only heir of his generation.
It remains to be seen what the princess and Komuro do now. Komuro attended Fordham Law School and works for a law firm in New York, while Mako has worked in art curation and may try to remain in that field.