Princess Mako of Akishino, one of Japan’s most popular royals, has been secretly living and studying in the English city of Leicester for the last year.
Princess Mako is the eldest daughter of Prince Akishino and Princess Kiko and first-born granddaughter of Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko. However, despite her royal situation, this real-life princess disguised herself as a regular student at the University of Leicester to study for a Masters in Art Museum and Gallery Studies.
Her Imperial Highness Princess Mako of Akishino has been living in Leicester http://t.co/ZjQUgDei4a pic.twitter.com/SGKAjgxpgj
— GoldenCouple (@TRH_WandC) September 19, 2015
When she is at home in Japan, Princess Mako, 23, is rarely out of the public eye and lives the luxurious royal life. However, as she did not want to stick out of the crowd and be treated any differently, she lived in the halls of residence with the other students during her stay in the U.K.
The Leicester Mercury reports other Japanese students recognized her and knew who she was, but according to her course supervisor, Professor Simon Knell, they left her in peace to continue her studies.
Now, Princess Mako has completed her studies, the Imperial House of Japan said it was time to let England know about her presence and called a secret press conference. A large group of Japanese photographers and journalists recently gathered on Friday for the event on a “no questions asked” basis and a Japanese press officer announced when photographers could take photos.
Had the privilege of filming Her Imperial Highness Princess Mako of Akishino today, it was an absolute delight pic.twitter.com/BCAaw6MrEs
— Carl Vivian (@CarlVivian_) September 18, 2015
The Mirror Online reports that while journalists were not allowed to ask questions, when the royal student was leaving the press conference, one brave reporter piped up and asked, “How has your time here been?”
Despite the ban and a mild protest from the press officer, Princess Mako bowed and responded to the reporter, saying, “It was a great experience.”
— UoL News Centre (@UoLNewsCentre) September 18, 2015
The royal student is now heading back to Japan and will await her results in January 2016, when the university hopes she will return for her graduation ceremony.
According to Knell, Princess Mako was “a fantastic student, you’d like any student to be polite and engage with the ideas you put forward and put their own ideas forward.”
“It was great to have a relationship with her – a real pleasure to do that.
“She’s modest and very kind and just a really nice person.”
According to Dr Suzanne Macleod, Head of the School of Museum Studies, “We have a strong connection to the cultural profession in Japan with many students graduating from our School to take up posts in museums and galleries there and so it felt very natural that Mako should come and follow her interests with us.”
Macleod went on to say that Princess Mako had been a pleasure to teach and has “worked incredibly hard and should be very proud of her achievements.”
[Photo of Princess Kiko and Princess Mako (right) by Ken Ishii / Getty Images News]