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FeaturesJapanThe Sussexes

Why Japan’s Princess Mako and Kei Komuro situation is different from Harry and Meghan

(Screenshot/Fair Use)

Since Japan’s Princess Mako married her commoner boyfriend Kei Komuro, many comparisons have been made between their situation and the situation of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. However, while both couples left their kingdoms for the United States, their situations are quite different.

While the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were celebrated in the United Kingdom with a royal wedding, the Komuros had to wed in an administrative building with no royal rituals. The Sussexes served as working royals for a couple of years before choosing to step back as senior members of the family and relocate to the United States. According to the current Letters Patent, when Charles takes the throne, both of Harry and Meghan’s children will be entitled to the titles of Prince and Princess. Mako and Kei never had that option.

Under Japanese law, princesses who marry commoners are required to give up their royal status and role in the Imperial Family. Imperial House Law states: “In case a female of the Imperial Family marries a person other than the Emperor or the members of the Imperial Family, she shall lose the status of the Imperial Family member.” Thus, Mako had no option to remain a royal; she was legally obligated to give up her titles and imperial role. Any children she and Kei have will not, under current laws, hold titles. Even if she had wanted to stay in the Imperial Family, she had to follow the law and renounce her royal status.

Harry and Meghan chose to leave the Royal Family; they were not required to do by any law. The Sussexes felt that they had no choice but to leave to protect themselves and their family, but this is not the same as a law giving you no option one way or another.

Now both couples faced heavy criticism and people unhappy with the royals’ and their choice of partner. Where Meghan met racism and classism issues, Kei Komuro had to face judgement based on his mother’s finances. In both instances, people felt they had a right to say who someone should or should not marry and spend their life with. However, more people in the UK supported the union of Harry and Meghan than the Japanese endorsed the marriage of Princess Mako and Kei Komuro (at least at the beginning). Whether or not the British people are still as supportive of the Sussexes’ union could be up for debate.

The situations that forced both couples to flee to the United States are quite different. One was legally obligated, while the other felt there was no other choice.

As Kei and Mako Komuro settle into their new life in New York, they should find the privacy and peace they’ve been seeking for so long. New Yorkers and Americans won’t care who they are or where they come from. They will just be two of millions of citizens going about their daily lives. Finally, for the Komuros, they will have the peace and private lives they couldn’t have back in Japan.

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. Her love of royals began in middle school, and 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.