Royal Wedding With A Common(er) Ending–Japanese Princess’ Marriage Terminates Her Royal Status

When a woman marries, her single status terminates. But for a Japanese princess, an October 26th marriage to her long-time boyfriend ended not only her status as a single woman but also as a member of the royal household. Sadly, for Princess Mako to marry her non-royal Prince Charming, she had to give up being a princess. The two may live happily ever after, but it will be as commoners.

Princess Mako, age 30, is the niece of Emperor Naruhito, and the oldest child of the emperor’s younger brother. Her father is first in line to succeed to the Chrysanthemum Throne. And where is (oops, was) Princess Mako in the line of succession? Nowhere, that’s where. What? Japan’s Imperial Household Law, in effect since 1947, recognizes only male heirs descended from a male line. Apparently the Japanese royal womenfolk are only good for birthing babies, hopefully males who can get in line to take the throne.

On the bright side, Japanese royal women are allowed to get an education. (Former) Princess Mako graduated from International Christian University in Tokyo with a B.A. in Art and Cultural Heritage. She then obtained an M.A. in Art Museum Gallery Studies at the U.K.’s University of Leicester.

Her college education was the beginning of the end of royal status for (Former) Her Imperial Highness Princess Mako. In 2012, she met her now husband, Kei Komuro, a fellow ICU student. Love blossomed like a Japanese cherry tree, and the two began dating. The relationship continued strong, and an engagement was announced in May 2017.

The planned marriage was met with disapproval by her family, the Japanese public, and the media. Why? Because, Mako’s beloved was a (GASP!) commoner–and one raised by a single parent at that. [Brief pause while I check my calendar. Yup! It is 2021.] Mr. Komuro would probably meet with approval from most families. He is a well-educated young man, also age 30, who in May 2021 attained a law degree from Fordham University and is now working at a NYC law firm. He should, thus, be able to provide more than adequately for a wife. But the sentiment in Japan is that he is “unworthy” of a Japanese princess.

Drama in the fiance’s family delayed the nuptials originally planned for 2017. A financial dispute arose about funds Mr. Komuro’s mother used to pay his college tuition. The money had been received from a then fiance of hers. Was it a loan? A gift? Controversy swirled. Mr. Komuro gallantly stepped up to the plate to defend his mother and offer to repay the money which they believed had been a gift. Still wondering why what Komuro’s mother did or didn’t do in her personal life has to do with Mako and Kei. Guess I’m just slow. But the imperial family, the media, and the Japanese public disapproved of the match even more.

As if a delayed wedding and overwhelming disapproval of the marriage weren’t bad enough, Kei then left Japan for three years to pursue his law degree in the U.S. His 2018 departure kept him out of the country until the end of September 2021 when he returned to marry the love of his life. The lovebirds were separated by thousands of miles, but their love for and commitment to each other was undiminished.

Life without Kei in Japan was no picnic for Princess Mako. The relentless, strong criticism of her marital plans took its toll on her. Several weeks before her October 26th wedding, it was announced she’d been diagnosed with complex post-traumatic stress disorder as a result. Perhaps she and Meghan Markle could form a mental health support group; it seems they both experienced family drama, media intrusion, and royal family disputes.

Further drama arose when Kei returned to Japan for the marriage. He sported a ponytail, causing a media frenzy. Apparently suitors of a Japanese princess don’t look suitable with their hair in that style. Overlooked was the fact Kei was wearing a suit jacket and button down shirt, not torn jeans and a t-shirt displaying some crass statement.

So controversial was the marriage between Princess Mako and Kei Komuro that the couple decided to forgo a formal wedding ceremony or any reception. Instead, the two merely went to a local government office and registered their union. Thereafter, they held a press conference at a hotel, a venue they paid for to avoid criticism of tax dollars being spent on anything to do with their marriage. And…surprise, surprise. Kei had cut off his ponytail for the big event.

As a result of the marriage, Princess Mako is now simply (and probably more happily) Mrs. Kei Komuro. Her royal status was terminated; now she is “just” a commoner. According to Japan’s Imperial Household law, an imperial daughter’s marriage to a man outside the royal family demotes her to her husband’s status. But the Japanese government is not totally heartless. It provides a dowry of $1.3 million dollars to royal women leaving the imperial family. Princess Mako admirably turned down this generous offer.

After a relationship lasting almost a decade (an accomplishment in and of itself these days), Kei and Mako are FINALLY married. What now? The couple will again be separated, but just temporarily. Kei will return to New York to work as a law clerk in the corporate and tech groups of Lowenstein Sandler, LLP. while he awaits the results (expected in December) of the bar exam he took in July. Mako has basically been kicked out of the palace (she’s no longer a royal you know) and has moved into her own apartment while she awaits the processing of her visa. She will move to N.Y. to join her husband as the couple plans to make their home in the U.S.

Will Mako and Kei live happily ever after? After all they’ve been through together, let’s hope so. Wouldn’t it be awesome if they had a daughter born in the U.S. who grew up to be president? Being a princess is nice, but being a U.S. President would be a way for any woman to make a statement about women’s capabilities. They can produce heirs AND run countries.

WONDER-ing Woman:

Why was there so little U.S. media attention to Princess Mako’s story when we were saturated with the details of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s relationship and marriage? How do you feel about Princess Mako choosing her private life over her public life? Does Prince Charming actually have to be a prince to be “worthy” of a real princess?

As The Windsor World Turns

Although “The Crown,” a historical drama series produced for Netflix, has received critical acclaim for its biographical portrayal of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, nothing beats a reality show.  Millions of viewers are waiting with bated breath for the season finale of “As The Windsor World Turns” slated for broadcast on Saturday.  Huge ratings are guaranteed because so many juicy plot lines will come to a head.

Not since the days of the U.S. TV series “Dallas” has such an interest in the lives, loves and scandals of a family been so captivating.  While “Dallas” gave Americans the fictional Ewings, “As The Windsor World Turns” gives us the living, breathing Windsors.  Of course, no one refers to the family members by their last name.  They are known merely by one name with a title sometimes preceding it.  Instead of Ellie, J.R., Sue Ellen, Bobby, Pam, and Lucy from the American Ewings, the English Windors have Elizabeth, Charles, Camilla, William, Kate and Harry.  But, families are families, so squabbles, scandals and snubs are to be expected and enjoyed–at least by the viewers.

“Dallas” famously ended one season with the shooting of older son and love to hate him bad guy, J.R.  Viewers were abuzz with the oft-repeated question  “Who shot J.R.?”  Guns are frowned upon in jolly old England, so no shooting is anticipated in this week’s Windsor season finale.  The Brits, as well as many of us across the pond, are buzzing with concern as to “Who’ll escort Meghan?”

How clever of the Windsors to end their season with the much anticipated wedding between Harry and Meghan, a time for family members to put on their best duds and behave their worst.  A wedding, of course, is a good venue to bring family drama to a head because relatives are forced to come face to face.  As the previews have revealed, the Windsors may be royal, but they are really just like the rest of us when it comes to a weddings. Love may be in the air for the bride and groom, but a wedding is a time when simmering family feuds rise to the surface.  The Windsors will be no exception.

For those who have not been keeping up with the story line, let’s provide a bit of a background.  The groom is the handsome son of a beloved princess who, unfortunately, took after her name, i.e., Di did die, and tragically at that.  But before her death, she did not live happily ever after because her hubby, Prince Charming–er Prince Charles, was carrying on with a former flame during their marriage leading to a DI-vorce.

The former flame ultimately married her Prince Charming to the great chagrin of the Queen who has referred to her daughter-in-law as “that wicked woman.”  (Hope the seating chart at the wedding reception keeps these two women on opposite sides of the castle.)  Prince Charles, in the meantime, is fixated on if Mummy Dearest, age 92 and still going strong, will ever retire and give him the opportunity to sit on the throne before he is forced to sit in a wheelchair.

The groom’s older brother, William, is none too happy about having to get all gussied up to attend the royal wedding.  His latest bundle of joy has been keeping him up at night to the extent that he is nodding off at official functions.  And, gosh darn, the wedding celebration conflicts with a big polo match he wants to attend.  He hopes to sneak out unnoticed to attend it.  Ha! Good one, Wills!

William’s wife, Kate, is also tired from popping out the third heir to the throne she has produced in the last five years.  Who said a princess has an easy life?  Just last month she left the hospital mere hours after giving birth having to be impeccably dressed and coiffed for a photo shoot outside the hospital door.  Now she has to get all dolled up and corral her four year old son and three year old daughter into being a page boy and a page girl at their uncle’s wedding  Bet Kate would probably be napping.  Perhaps she could hire a lookalike to attend in her place.

Then there’s poor Princess Eugenie, Harry’s cousin.  Although she’s engaged as well, no one cares about her.  Her cousins have succeeded not only in stealing her engagement limelight as well as pushing her down in the line of succession to the throne.  How much press has her upcoming October wedding to what’s his name received?

But as snubbed as Eugenie feels, her mother has gotten the public shaft.  Fergie (no relation to the Black Eyed Peas singer), the ex-wife of Prince Andrew with whom she still shares a home (two can live as cheaply as one, you know), has not been invited to the exclusive evening wedding reception being thrown by her former father-in-law, Charles.  You know Charles–the Queen’s son, Di’s ex, Harry’s father and “that wicked woman’s” current husband.

Just to add a little comic relief to the Windsor family drama, there’s the bride’s family.  Well, they aren’t much of a family, but they are related by blood, seemingly bad blood.  Meghan’s half-brother wrote an open letter to Harry telling him to ditch Meghan.  With family like that, who needs enemies? Meghan’s half-sister, in cahoots with Meghan’s father, arranged for some staged paparazzi pictures of the father of the bride.  The arrangement became public, things blew up and the FOB had a heart attack at some point causing him to announce he’d forgo walking his little girl down the aisle.  Wait!  Just kidding!  He’ll do it after all.  Oops!  Now he can’t because of the urgent need for heart surgery.  Who can keep up with all these plot twists?

Which brings us back to the big question of who we will see coming down the aisle on Saturday.  Sure all eyes will be on the bride if only to see whose arm she is holding as she makes her way down the aisle to her own Prince Charming, Harry.  What a crazy start for this couple trying to live happily ever after.

Yes, I confess I will be watching “As The Windsor World Turns” on Saturday.  Sadly, the show is not a fictional series but people’s real lives.  Truth is indeed stranger than fiction.  And given the reality of Windsor life, clearly being a royal isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.  Royals may live in castles, but they also live in a fish bowl.

Just WONDER-ing:  Do you plan to watch the royal wedding?  Is there a place for royalty in today’s world?  Would YOU want to a royal?