Japanese Princess Ayako Gives Up Royal Status to Marry Commoner

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Japanese Princess Ayako and her husband Kei Moriya are pictured after their wedding ceremony at the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo
Japanese Princess Ayako (L) and her husband Kei Moriya are pictured after their wedding ceremony at the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo, Japan, in this photo released by Kyodo on October 29, 2018. Mandatory credit Kyodo/via REUTERS
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TOKYO (Reuters) 

Princess Ayako married commoner Kei Moriya on Monday at a traditional ceremony at Tokyo’s Meiji Shrine, to become the latest female royal to leave Japan’s imperial family

The 28-year-old princess, the third daughter of Emperor Akihito‘s late cousin Prince Takamado, tied the knot with Kei Moriya, a 32-year-old employee of shipping company Nippon Yusen.

 

Japanese Princess Ayako and her fiance Kei Moriya attend a news conference to announce their engagement in Tokyo
Japanese Princess Ayako, the third daughter of the late Prince Takamado, and her fiance Kei Moriya attend a news conference to announce their engagement at the Imperial Household Agency in Tokyo, Japan July 2, 2018. Koji Sasahara/Pool via Reuters

 

The princess wore a many-layered court kimono and molded hairdo typical of the imperial aristocracy, while the groom wore a black tuxedo with grey trousers for the ceremony at the shrine dedicated to the spirit of her great-grandfather, Emperor Meiji.

“I’m filled with joy to get married and to have so many people visit us at the Meiji Shrine and congratulate us,” Princess Ayako told a news conference after the private Shinto wedding ceremony.

 

 

Japanese royals have been given freedom to marry whom they choose for at least three generations. Emperor Akihito was the first crown prince to marry a commoner, who became Empress Michiko. They met on the tennis court.

Princess Ayako had to renounce her imperial status because she married a commoner, as is the practice for women under Japan’s succession law. She will become Ayako Moriya after signing marriage papers later Monday.

 

Japanese Princess Ayako and her husband-to-be Kei Moriya arrive at the Meiji Shrine for the wedding ceremony in Tokyo
Japanese Princess Ayako (R) and her husband-to-be Kei Moriya arrive at the Meiji Shrine for the wedding ceremony in Tokyo, Japan, in this photo released by Kyodo on October 29, 2018. Mandatory credit Kyodo/via REUTERS

 

Japan’s royal family is experiencing a shortage of males. Crown Prince Naruhito, who takes over after Akihito abdicates next year, his brother Fumihito, his nephew Hisahito and Masahito, the octogenarian brother of the current emperor, are the only four male heirs to the throne left.

 

Japanese Princess Ayako and her husband Kei Moriya bow their heads during worship at the Meiji Shrine after their wedding ceremony in Tokyo
Japanese Princess Ayako (L) and her husband Kei Moriya bow their heads during worship at the Meiji Shrine after their wedding ceremony in Tokyo, Japan, in this photo released by Kyodo on October 29, 2018. Mandatory credit Kyodo/via REUTERS

 

The shrinking royal family has raised concerns and calls for changes in the Imperial Succession Law, but conservatives are deeply resistant to allowing females to inherit the Chrysanthemum Throne.

 

(Reporting by Kwiyeon Ha; Editing by Malcolm Foster & SImon Cameron-Moore)