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Japan’s Princess Mako celebrates 30th birthday – her last as a royal

Japan’s Princess Mako celebrates her 30th birthday today – her last birthday as a member of the Imperial Family. In a few days’ time, the Princess will renounce her titles and place in the Imperial Family as she marries her commoner boyfriend.

She was born as the eldest granddaughter of then Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko on 23 October 1991 at the Imperial Household Agency Hospital in Tokyo. Mako Naishinnō is the first child of Crown Prince Akishino and Crown Princess Kiko; she has one younger sister, Princess Kako (b. 1994) and a younger brother, Prince Hisahito (b. 2006).

Her education took place at the Gakushūin School; she also studied English at the University College, Dublin, in the summer of 2010. Her university education took place at the International Christian University. She graduated in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in art and cultural heritage. It was at university that she met her now-fiancé, Kei Komuro.

The pair’s engagement was announced in May 2017, with the wedding originally expected to take place in October 2018. Controversy soon surrounded Komuro’s family regarding money they had borrowed from his mother’s former fiancé (some of the money went to Komuro’s tuition) and reportedly not paid back. The wedding was then postponed, but Komuro later said he was working with the former fiancé to settle the dispute.

Princess Mako on an official visit to El Salvador. By Presidencia El Salvador from San Salvador, El Salvador, América Central – Visita Princesa Mako de Akishino 32, CC0, Wikimedia Commons

It was announced in September 2021 that the wedding would go ahead the following month but without the formal royal rituals. The Imperial Household Agency announced that Mako has been suffering from a complex post-traumatic stress disorder from the media scrutiny toward her, Komuro and their families since the controversy came to light.

Mako is set to meet with her grandparents and aunt and uncle, Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako, without Komuro ahead of the wedding. Both couples are said to wish Mako and Komuro well.

The Princess will not accept the traditional lump-sum payment from the government upon her marriage – something she’d discussed since 2014. She’s the first royal female to not get the money in the post-war era.

Mako and Kei Komuro will marry on 26 October at a government office. They will meet the press later that day. The couple will then relocate to New York City, where Komuro is employed at a law firm.

The Imperial Family in 2021. By 日本国政府が作成したもの。 – 2, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Upon her marriage, Princess Mako will renounce her titles and role as a member of the Imperial Family as required by Japanese law when a princess marries a commoner. Female members of the Imperial Family are not in the line of succession and are not allowed to head their own branches of the family.

Mako leaving the Imperial Family is a huge loss for the royals as she has undertaken several official visits abroad and works hard for organisations inside Japan. The number of working members of the Imperial Family continues to shrink. The government is in discussions on how to rectify this – including the possibility of allowing female members of the family to head their own branches and remain in the Imperial Family after marriage to commoners.

About author

Brittani is from Tennessee, USA. She is a political scientist and historian after graduating with a degree in the topics from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in December 2014. She also holds a master's degree from Northeastern University. She enjoys reading and researching all things regarding the royals of the world. She's been researching, reading, and writing on royalty for over a decade. She became Europe Editor in October 2016, and then Deputy Editor in January 2019, and has been featured on several podcasts, radio shows, news broadcasts and websites including Global News Canada, ABC News Australia, WION India and BBC World News.