/ 26 October 2021

An Imperial wedding – drama included

Image source: Getty
Image source: Getty

There’s a royal wedding today, and it’s nothing like the British variety. Japan’s Princess Mako will marry her long-term commoner boyfriend Kei Komuro, but there’s no grand ceremony that will be beamed into homes around the world. The 30yo royal has marked the occasion with a visit to her uncle Emperor Naruhito and aunt Empress Masako, and she’s been to see her grandparents, former Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko. However, the purpose wasn’t to party – it was to bid them farewell.

Yes, and it’s exposed a big problem for the world’s oldest continuous hereditary monarchy. Only men can inherit the throne, and imperial women are out of the family when they marry a commoner. It’s become a pressing issue because there are currently 18 members of the imperial family, 7 are aged under 40yo, and just one is male. So Princess Mako’s wedding has forced a conversation about the requirement for women to leave when they could stay inside the tent and have sons to add to the heir pool. And in some quarters, there’s also support to overturn the ban on women becoming a ruling empress. Acknowledging the threat, the government has launched a review.

That’s not going to happen. Today, an official will submit legal papers to register the marriage, and then the couple will give a press conference. Sounds dull, but the lead up has been anything but. Since announcing their intention to marry in 2017, they have gone through the ringer. Komuro’s mother was said to owe a former partner money, so the family was portrayed as gold diggers and the wedding was put on ice. The whole sorry saga left Princess Mako with post-traumatic stress disorder, the palace says. The couple hadn’t seen each other for 3 years when they reunited this month to get the show on the road. Komuro works as a lawyer in New York, which is where the couple will settle. And she has said her dream is to “make a warm and comfortable family full of smiles.” Good luck to them…


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