Princess Mako marries US man in rare move into commoner world

Image copyright AFP/Getty Images Image caption Princess Mako, right, was previously a member of the Imperial family and the first woman appointed to the country’s supreme council

A former Japanese princess has married a commoner and moved to New York with him.

Princess Mako, a 26-year-old former student of Harvard University, was married in Tokyo earlier this month at a small ceremony.

But her husband, Kei Komuro, is a central banker, and she was moved to the US and given a new name: Hitomi Sato.

She will now be known as Hitomi Mako Sato, and the couple plan to take up permanent residence in the city.

Japan’s Imperial Household Agency (IHA) said the marriage had not been registered “properly”.

“She moved voluntarily to the US without a valid Japanese marriage certificate, which had consequences in such areas as filing an appropriate residence permit,” a statement read.

There was a media frenzy about the move, but the family – including Princess Mako’s mother and former Imperial princess Monoko – managed to say very little.

The IHA said the two were currently taking the necessary steps to seek a marriage certificate.

The agency said it considered this to be “a temporary measure until [the couple] get married”.

It added that no decision had been made on where the royal couple would live.

Image copyright AFP/Getty Images Image caption Princess Mako was groomed for the role of empress by her father, Emperor Akihito

Princess Mako was groomed for the role of empress by her father, Emperor Akihito, before he abdicated in October 2016.

The eldest daughter of Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako, Princess Mako had been treated for post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.

She had been forced to decline her place on the imperial household council in 2015 and inform her father that she no longer wished to remain part of the Royal Family.

Japan does not have traditional aristocracy and is divided into five royal houses – Tokugawa shogunate, Daiei royals, Daiei Ashiru, Koshin-Ryo and Yoriko emperors and New Japan royal – made up of married men and women from different families.

There are about 750 of the former “Koshin royals” left in the imperial family.

But Princess Mako was considered a commoner by her parents, and few in Japan would ever have thought the young woman would one day become royalty.

Her new husband, Kei Komuro, is a 46-year-old senior deputy director at the Bank of Japan.

After a period of modelling for children’s books, Princess Mako joined the Japanese government’s higher education institute, which provides financial support to postgraduate students.

The couple married in Tokyo on 5 July and were photographed together shortly afterwards on the steps of the shrine that honors the country’s emperors.

Both wore traditional Japanese kimonos, and were held aloft in traditional celebratory dances by staff of the shrine, which attracts millions of visitors each year.

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