Second Japanese Princess Gives Up Her Royal Status to Marry a ‘Commoner’

Princess Ayako of Takamado, daughter of Norihito, Prince Takamado, and Hisako, Princess Takamado, is now the second Japanese princess in two years to renounce her royal status to marry a “commoner.”

According to Japan’s Imperial Household Agency, Princess Ayako, 27, will marry Kei Moriya, 32, an employee of the shipping firm NYK Line.

The pair will be engaged on August 12, while the wedding is set on October 29. They will marry at Tokyo’s Meiji Jingu shrine.

Princess Ayako. Image (Cropped) via Wikimedia Commons / 高円宮絢子女王殿下のカルガリー・レスブリッジご訪問 : 在カルガリー日本国総領事館 (CC BY 4.0)

Princess Ayako, who studied at Camosun College and the University of British Columbia in Canada, serves as Honorary Patron of the Canada-Japan Society, a public organization that fosters stronger ties between Japanese and Canadian nationals, the Japan Times noted.

Princess Ayako’s mother, who met Kei’s parents during a charity event, introduced her daughter and Kei to each other in December 2017.

Kei Moriya (left) and Princess Ayako (right). Image via Imperial Household Agency

The pair appears to have common ground. Princess Ayako holds a master’s degree in social welfare, while Kei is a board member of a non-profit offering education for children in developing countries.

Both also enjoy reading books, skiing and traveling.

Princess Ayako in 2011. Image via Wikimedia Commons / Kounosu (CC BY-SA 1.0)

“I was very surprised to hear the news. I want to send my congratulations to his family,” one of Kei’s relatives told the Mainichi.

A colleague also commented, “He is fluent in English and has a reputation as a very capable worker. He will be an earnest and good husband.”

Princess Ayako in 2012. Image via Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

Princess Ayako’s exit from the royal family follows the path taken by her second cousin, Princess Mako, who announced her decision to marry paralegal Kei Komoro in May 2017. They are expected to wed in 2020.

Princess Ayako and Kunihiko Tanabe, Consul-General in Calgary, attended the 50th Anniversary Ceremony of the founding of Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden at Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden in Lethbridge City, Alberta Province on July 14, 2017. Image via Wikimedia Commons / 高円宮絢子女王殿下のカルガリー・レスブリッジご訪問 : 在カルガリー日本国総領事館 (CC BY 4.0)

But unlike Princess Mako — the eldest grandchild of Emperor Akihito — Princess Ayako is not a direct descendant to the emperor, according to CNN.

Princess Ayako and Kunihiko Tanabe, Consul-General in Calgary, attended Calgary Stampede in Calgary City, Alberta Province on July 2017. Image via Wikimedia Commons / 高円宮絢子女王殿下のカルガリー・レスブリッジご訪問 : 在カルガリー日本国総領事館 (CC BY 4.0)

With the princesses’ departure, the number of Japan’s imperial family comes down to 17, meaning the remaining members will have the burden of more royal duties.

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