Japan’s Princess Ayako to relinquish royal status to marry a commoner

By @chelean on
Japan's Princess Ayako, third daughter of the late Prince Takamado and Princess Takamado (also known as Princess Hisako)
Japan's Princess Ayako, third daughter of the late Prince Takamado and Princess Takamado (also known as Princess Hisako), waves to well-wishers during a public appearance for New Year celebrations at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan, in this photo taken by Kyodo January 2, 2016. Kyodo/via Reuters

Another Japanese princess has succumbed to love. Princess Ayako, the third daughter of Princess Hisako and the late Prince Takamado, will relinquish her royal title to marry a commoner.

The 27-year-old royal will become engaged to Kei Moriya, a 32-year-old worker at shipping firm NYK Line, in a traditional courting ceremony called Nosai no Gi on Aug. 12. They will wed on Oct. 29 at Meiji Jingu Shrine in Shibuya Ward, Tokyo.

Ayako is the daughter of the late Prince Takamado, a cousin of Emperor Akihito.

According to Japan Times, Princess Hisako introduced Moriya to her daughter. Moriya’s late mother was Hisako’s long-time friend and had served as the executive board member of Tokyo-based non-profit organisation Kokkyo naki Kodomotachi (KnK), or Children Without Borders. Moriya himself has become a board member. Hisako apparently hoped that Ayako might become interested in international welfare activities for children when she introduced her to Moriya.

And because Ayako will be marrying a commoner, she will be losing her Imperial status. With her departure from the Imperial family, the number of its members will slim down to just 17 members, prompting concerns from citizens what would happen to their royal family.

The Imperial House of Japan follows a male-only succession, which means only male heirs will inherit the throne. The only unmarried male member left is 11-year-old Prince Hisahito, the son of Prince Akishino and the only grandson of Emperor Akihito.

Under a special law created for the current ruler in 2016, Emperor Akihito, 84, had been permitted to abdicate from his throne, which was previously not permitted and unheard of in nearly 200 years. He is scheduled to abdicate on April 30, 2019. His eldest son, Crown Prince Naruhito, will succeed him.

Ayako isn’t the only princess from the family who will relinquish her title to marry a commoner. Her older sister, Princess Noriko, married commoner Kunimaro Senge in 2014. Emperor Akihito’s eldest grandchild, 26-year-old Princess Mako, also announced her engagement to college sweetheart Kei Komuro last year. They were supposed to wed this year, but they had postponed their wedding until 2020, citing “lack of preparation.”

The Imperial Household Agency will formally announce Princess Ayako and Moriya’s engagement on Monday at a news conference.