Japan’s Princess Ayako gives up royal status to marry a commoner

Princess Ayako marries commoner Kei Moriya
Princess Ayako and Kei Moriya

Japanese Princess Ayako marries a commoner, Kei Moriya in a ritual-filled ceremony on Monday at Tokyo’s Meiji Shrine as she becomes the latest female royal to leave Japan’s imperial family.

The 28-year-old princess, is the daughter of the emperor’s cousin, and her new husband Kei Moriya, 32, works for major shipping company Nippon Yusen.

Women who marry into the imperial family become members of the family, but those who marry commoners, like Ayako, must leave.

Princess Ayako gives up royal status to marry Kei Moriya

Moriya said he hoped to help Ayako adjust to a commoner’s life, telling reporters: ‘I want us to work together, hand in hand, to create a family filled with smiles.’

Ayako and groom Kei Moriya were shown on national news walking slowly before guests at the shrine. The wedding took place in one of the pagoda-like buildings in the shrine complex and included an exchange of rings and a sharing of a cup of sake, according to Japanese media.

Both rituals are relatively routine for Shinto-style weddings, including those of regular Japanese.

She wore a Heian-era style hairdo, which is swept back into a ponytail, and a traditional robe splashed with red and green patterns, while Moriya wore coattails. She later changed into a red Japanese robe.

‘I am filled with happiness,’ she told reporters after the ceremony.

Ayako bid farewell to Emperor Akihito last week. She said Monday she hoped to continue to help the emperor and empress as a former member of the imperial family.

The eldest granddaughter of the emperor is set to marry a commoner in 2020.

Akihito has said he will abdicate next year. His eldest son, Crown Prince Naruhito, will ascend to the Chrysanthemum Throne on May 1.

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.

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