Nearly four years after announcing their intentions, Japan’s answer to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will tie the knot on Oct. 26. Princess Mako and her scandal-ridden college sweetheart, Kei Komuro, will wed in a civil ceremony forgoing the usual royal hoopla, the Imperial household announced Friday.
Mako’s decision to marry a commoner will cost her her crown. Japan’s strict lineage rules mean that female royals cannot marry commoners, but male royals can, which is said to have angered the princess so much she will not accept the $1.35 million taxpayer payoff that Japanese female royalty get when they abdicate. The 29-year-old, who is the granddaughter of former Emperor Akihito, is the first in Japan’s royal family to refuse the gift.
Mako and Komuro—whose ponytail he grew during law school in America has sparked its own scandal in Japanese tabloids—first announced they planned to wed in 2017. But a financial scandal involving his divorced mother and her lover delayed the nuptials. Komuro’s mother is alleged to have used money from her companion to pay for law school at Fordham University in New York for her son. Before dating the princess, Komuro was a male model called “Prince of the Sea” in various ad campaigns for a beach tourism campaign in the Tokyo suburb of Fujisawa.
The scandal has sparked comparisons to Harry and Meghan, who left royal life in the U.K. to pursue their careers in U.S. But in Japan, where the Imperial family rarely makes headlines, the scandal of the rogue princess and her common lover has captured attention. When Komuro arrived in Narita airport near Tokyo from New York this week, more than 150 reporters and paparazzi met him at the airport, according to local media reports.
After the simple wedding, the two will move to New York City, where Komuro has already secured a position in a law firm that has not been named.