Emperor's niece Princess Mako of Japan steps up official duties

Daily Mail Online 2 weeks ago

Princess Mako of Japan was the picture of regal poise as she embraced her new high profile role by taking on official duties at her uncle Emperor Naruhito's enthronement ceremony yesterday.

The princess, 28, the eldest daughter of Crown Prince Fumihito, 54, donned a traditional Jūnihitoe as she took part in a procession through Tokyo's Imperial Palace to mark her uncle's formal ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne. 

It marks the latest in a string of high profile engagements carried out by the princess, who has taken on a more active role within the family in the months since her uncle was made Emperor and her father heir to the throne in May. 

She has recently taken on duties that would have previously fallen to her parents, including making an official visit to South America in July. 

However Princess Mako, who studied in Edinburgh, Dublin and Leicester, will soon be forced to give up her royal title in order to marry long-term boyfriend Kei Komuro, a 'commoner' whom she met at university.

High profile: Princess Mako of Japan, 28, right, the eldest daughter of Crown Prince Fumihito, 54, donned a traditional Jūnihitoe as she took part in a procession through Tokyo's Imperial Palace to mark her uncle's formal ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne yesterday
High profile: Princess Mako of Japan, 28, right, the eldest daughter of Crown Prince Fumihito, 54, donned a traditional Jūnihitoe as she took part in a procession through Tokyo's Imperial Palace to mark her uncle's formal ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne yesterday

Japan's imperial law requires a princess to leave the royal family after marrying a commoner. Princess Mako's aunt, Princess Sayako, became the last royal to be stripped of her status when wed a Tokyo city official in 2005.

Princess Mako announced her intention to marry Mr Komuro, who works at a law firm, in 2017. Shortly afterwards it was announced the pair would wed in November 2018. 

The wedding was later postponed until 2020, with an official statement saying the couple needed more time to plan. However reports have since emerged suggesting Mr Komuro's family is involved in a financial dispute of which his in-laws disapprove.

In July the Crown Prince said he did not know whether his daughter's marriage will take place, the Japan Times reported.  

The public interest surrounding Princess Mako's status within the family sheds light on another issue facing Japan's royals: the lack of male heirs eligible to take the throne.

Princess Mako (in blue) has taken on a more active role within the family in the months since her uncle was made Emperor and her father heir to the throne in May. Pictured (l-r) Princess Kako, 24, and Princess Mako with parents Crown Princess Kiko and Crown Prince Fumihito
Princess Mako (in blue) has taken on a more active role within the family in the months since her uncle was made Emperor and her father heir to the throne in May. Pictured (l-r) Princess Kako, 24, and Princess Mako with parents Crown Princess Kiko and Crown Prince Fumihito

The Imperial Household Law of 1947 stipulates that only males in the family’s male line can ascend to the throne

It means that while Emperor Naruhito has a daughter Aiko, 17, it is his brother the Crown Prince who takes precedence. 

Similarly the Crown Prince's daughters, Mako and Kako, 24, will be passed over in favour of his son Prince Hisahito, 13. 

There is only one other man - the Emperor's 83-year-old uncle, Prince Hitachi - who is eligible under current rules. 

End of the line: Princess Mako is expected to lose her royal titles when she marries Kei Komuro, whom she met while studying at International Christian University (ICU) and is set to marry next year after postponing their wedding in 2018. Pictured, the princess in 2011
End of the line: Princess Mako is expected to lose her royal titles when she marries Kei Komuro, whom she met while studying at International Christian University (ICU) and is set to marry next year after postponing their wedding in 2018. Pictured, the princess in 2011

The threat of a crisis of succession has prompted action from Japanese lawmakers.

Today members of Japan's ruling party finalised proposals to allow men from previously severed branches of the imperial family to be rejoin in a bid to increase the number of male heirs. 

Proposals include allowing these distant royal relatives to be 'adopted' into the primary bloodline, or to marry female members. 

There is currently no move to change Imperial Law to instate female members of the family into the line of succession.   


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