A Japanese princess called Ayako gave up her royal status today to marry a common citizen at Tokyo’s Meiji Shrine. She is now considered the first female royal to leave Japan’s imperial family.
Princess Ayako is 27 years old, and is the third daughter of Emperor Akihito’s late cousin Prince Takamado. She decided to marry 32-year-old Kai Moriya, who works for a Japanese shipping company called Nippon Yusen KK.
The couple’s relationship had been announced by the bride’s mother Princess Hisako in December 2017. On August 12th, their engagement was made official in a traditional court ceremony.
“I am filled with happiness,” Ayako tells news reporters after the wedding ceremony today.
Moriya told reporters that he would like Ayako to be comfortable with adjusting to a common citizen’s life.
“I want us to work together, hand in hand, to create a family filled with smiles,” he says.
Japan’s succession law states that female members of the royal family give up their status and allowance if they decide to marry someone without ties to the royal family. Males are exempt from this rule.
Even though Princess Ayako will forfeit her right to receive an allowance, the Japanese government is paying her $950,000 (106.75 million yen) for living expenses, so there is no need to worry about her financial wellbeing.
According to reports, the wedding occasion was private, opened only to friends and family. It was estimated, however, that there were 1,000 attendees.
Ayako says she feels “awed” and “blessed”, explaining that she has been taught to serve the emperor and empress her whole life.
She said: “I will leave the imperial family today, but I will remain unchanged in my support for his majesty and her majesty.”
“I am very happy that we held the wedding at this Meiji Shrine where mt great grandfather is worshipped.”
“I feel so happy,” Ayako adds.
When asked how the two lovebirds met, they explained that their mothers had been friends for a long time before they hit it off.
Ayako said: “It didn’t feel as though we had met for the first time,” to which Moriya added: “And I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her.”
At the wedding, Princess Ayako wore a traditional Japanese imperial outfit, donning “a many-layered court Kimono and molded hairdo”. Moriya on the other hand wore a more classic black tuxedo with grey pants. The ceremony took place at the shrine of Ayako’s great grandfather, Emperor Meiji.
According to Ayako, her late father Prince takamado who died in 2002, “would have rejoiced at my marriage.” She added that the top hat Moriya was wearing at the wedding had belonged to her father.