Princess Mako of Japan leaving royal family to marry

The princess is Emperor Akihito's oldest grandchild

Gemma Strong

Princess Mako of Japan has announced her engagement to a former university classmate. Her marriage to Kei Komuro will mean that the princess will lose her royal status; under Japanese law, female imperial family members forfeit their status upon marriage to a commoner, whereas male members do not. In a press conference on Sunday, the 25-year-old said she was first attracted to Kei's "smile like the sun".

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Princess Mako has announced her engagement to Kei Komuro

She said: "I was aware since my childhood that I'll leave my royal status once I marry. While I worked to help the emperor and fulfil duties as a royal family member as much as I can, I've been cherishing my own life."

Kei, also 25, works at a law firm, while Mako is pursuing a doctorate and works as a museum researcher. The couple met five years ago while studying at the same university, and Kei proposed after dinner one evening in December 2013. He said he was happy and thankful to have been accepted by her parents, Prince Akishino – second in line to the Chrysanthemum throne – and Princess Kiko, and her grandparents, Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko.

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The couple met five years ago while studying at the same university

The Emperor has expressed his desire to abdicate from the throne soon, and is expected to do so late next year. He will be succeeded by his oldest son, Crown Prince Naruhito. Next in line in Prince Akishino, Mako's father. The only other person left in the line of succession is Mako's younger brother, ten-year-old Prince Hisahito; all Akihito's other grandchildren are women.

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