While the rest of the world is still enamored with the English royal family, it seems that Japanese royalty might not be so impressed with their own family lineage.
According to People, Princess Ayako of Japan will abdicate her position in order to marry a commoner. An official announcement was made by Japan’s Imperial Household in relation to Ayako’s decision to step down from her position.
Princess Ayako, also known officially as Her Imperial Highness Princess Ayako of Takamado, will leave the Imperial family in order to wed her true love commoner in the fall, according to the statement. She will then step down from her position as soon as the vows are exchanged.
Princess Ayako, 27, will become engaged to Kei Moriya, 32, on August 12 according to People. They intend to marry one month after the formal engagement on October 12 at Meiji Jingu Shrine in Shibuya Ward, Tokyo, Japan Times reports. Moriya works for the Japanese shipping firm NKY Line.
Ayako is not without her own credentials, though. She recently graduated from Josai International University and received a master’s degree in social welfare. She is also currently a research fellow at Josai International University’s Faculty of Social Work Studies.
So, who is Princess Ayako and how will this affect the Japanese royal family, also known as the Imperial family?
Princess Ayako of Takamado is the daughter of Prince Takamado, who died in 2002, and his widow, Princess Hisako Takamado. She is also the cousin of Emperor Akihito. Ayako is the youngest of Prince Takamado’s three daughters and would never have become a throne contender due to the fact that she is female. So, her abdication is not as controversial as if a prince had abdicated. However, under Japanese royal family laws, a monarch could, technically, become an empress, although this is highly unlikely as traditionally the title is passed down to male members of the royal family and has since become law.
However, there is a movement now to bring this royal family — believed to be the eldest royal family in the world — more up to date with current standards. Legislators want to see revisions to the male-only succession law as well as allowing “women who marry non-royals to stay within the family and start their own branch.”
This is not the first time a Japanese princess has stepped down from her position to marry a commoner. According to People, the “Emperor’s eldest grandchild, Princess Mako, 26, made the same decision in May 2017.” Princess Mako then decided to delay her wedding to Kei Komuro until 2020. However, she still officially left her royal status in September 2017.
Princess Ayako’s own sister, Princess Noriko, also married a commoner. She wed a Shinto priest in 2014.
With this current abdication, there are now 17 official members of the Japanese royal family left.