Princess Mako of Japan will give up her royal title to marry a commoner, CNN reports. The 25-year-old princess met 25-year-old Kei Komuro five years ago when the two were students at the International Christian University in Tokyo. The Imperial Household tells CNN that the engagement is underway, but won’t become official until the ceremonial exchanging of gifts takes place.
According to CNN, Japanese Imperial law “requires a princess to leave the imperial family upon marriage to a commoner.” Princess Mako is one of 14 women of the Royal Family’s 19 remaining members, and the recent news has raised concerns about the family’s shrinking size, CNN points out. Since Imperial law allows the Chrysanthemum throne to be passed only to male heirs, her engagement has ignited conversations about the possibility that the family won’t have enough members to carry out its public duties.
Princess Mako isn’t the first in her family to choose romance over royalty: In 2005, her aunt Sayako, the only daughter of Emperor Akhito, similarly renounced her own title when she married a town planner, Yoshiki Kuroda, CNN reports. If any of the other six remaining unmarried princesses were to marry commoners, they, too, would be forced to renounce their titles.
Princess Mako’s future husband works as a paralegal at a law firm and, coincidentally, once played the Prince of the Sea in a beach tourism commercial while he was in college, CNN reports. Since the engagement was announced, the Japanese people have been eager to learn more about his legacy, but his only response to the press has been, “I would like to talk about it when the time comes.”
There’s been no word yet on when the engagement will take place or what the Imperial Family’s response to the situation has been, but, hopefully, the union will bring about a wedding of princess-level proportions.