Japanese Princess Ayako officially surrendered her royal status by marrying a “commoner,” reducing the number of Japan’s imperial family members down to 17.
As the youngest child of Princess Hisako and the late Prince Takamado, the 28-year-old princess recently married 32-year-old Kei Moriya, an employee of the shipping firm NYK Line.
Princess Ayako holds a master’s degree in social welfare, while Kei is a board member of a non-profit organization that offers free education to children in developing countries.
The pair got engaged in August and was married on Oct. 29 at the Meiji Jingu shrine in Tokyo. The private ceremony was attended by close family members only.
During the ceremony, Ayako wore a formal Shinto-style robe, a red kouchiki (a “small cloak” with long, wide sleeves), and a naga-bakama, which is a long divided brown skirt.
According to CNN, the newlyweds took questions from reporters after exchanging vows inside the shrine.
“I would like to support her firmly and, hand in hand, build a happy family with lots of laughter,” Morita was quoted as saying.
“I am awed by how blessed I am,” Ayako noted.
She then shared that she was taught at a young age that being born into the imperial family meant her duty was to support the emperor and empress.
“I will leave the imperial family today, but I will remain unchanged in my support for his majesty and her majesty,” she said.
It should be noted that while Princess Ayako is not a direct descendant to the emperor, she was still part of Japan’s imperial family before her wedding, as her father is the cousin of Emperor Akihito.
Because the princess renounced her royal status, she is reportedly entitled to take a lump sum of $950,000 from the Japanese government for living expenses.