TOKYO (Reuters) – Princess Ayako married commoner Kei Moriya on Monday at a traditional ceremony at Tokyo’s Meiji Shrine, to become the latest female royal to leave Japan’s imperial family.
The 28-year-old princess, the third daughter of Emperor Akihito’s late cousin Prince Takamado, tied the knot with Kei Moriya, a 32-year-old employee of shipping company Nippon Yusen.
The princess wore a many-layered court kimono and molded hairdo typical of the imperial aristocracy, while the groom wore a black tuxedo with grey trousers for the ceremony at the shrine dedicated to the spirit of her great-grandfather, Emperor Meiji.
Japanese royals have been given freedom to marry whom they choose for at least three generations. Emperor Akihito was the first crown prince to marry a commoner, who became Empress Michiko. They met on the tennis court.
Princess Ayako had to renounce her imperial status because she married a commoner, as is the practice for women under Japan’s succession law. She will become Ayako Moriya after signing marriage papers later Monday.
The shrinking royal family has raised concerns and calls for changes in the Imperial Succession Law, but conservatives are deeply resistant to allowing females to inherit the Chrysanthemum Throne.