A week since the public announcement of her engagement, Princess Mako has undertaken her first public appearance. Accompanying her parents, Prince Akishino and Princess Kiko, Princess Mako has recently undertaken a visit to the National Museum of Nature and Science in Tokyo. While taking a tour of the building, the Imperial Family were shown an exhibition on loan from the Natural History Museum in London called “Treasures of the Natural World — Best of London’s Natural History Museum”.
It consists of over 180 pieces from the museum’s collection, and it chronicles the story of how scientists, historians and archaeologists sought to better understand the natural world, from the 18th century to the present day. Featured are numerous artefacts and specimens that inspired numerous scientific breakthroughs, such as complete skeletons of the now-extinct New Zealand moa. The collection continues to be used as a valuable research resource for scientists across the world, and the exhibition symbolises Anglo-Japanese cooperation in academia.
Given the relative distance between London and Tokyo, it offers Japanese citizens a chance to see the Natural History Museum of London’s collection that they may not otherwise be able to manage.
The visit is possibly of special interest to Princess Mako, as she earned a master’s in art museum and gallery studies while a student at the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom. Since graduating, she has found work as a project researcher at the University of Tokyo’s museum.
Princess Mako and her parents were greeted by a small crowd of excited well-wishers, the two groups exchanging polite bows as the Imperial Family arrived at the museum. The Princess’s engagement to Kei Komuro, whom she met through a mutual friend five years ago, has met with a degree of controversy. Although the Japanese public greatly supports the marriage, by marrying a commoner she is to lose her status as a member of the Japanese Imperial Family due to the Imperial Household Act of 1947. According to the law, any female member of the Imperial Family who marries a commoner must rescind her status as a princess and become a commoner herself.
Upon her marriage to Kei Komuro, Princess Mako’s name will change from “Her Imperial Highness Princess Mako of Akashino” to simply “Mrs Mako Komuro”. She would be the eighth female member of the Imperial Family to marry a commoner since the Imperial Household Act’s passage.