On Tuesday, Japan’s Princess Mako – Emperor Naruhito’s niece – married her lawyer fiancé, Kei Komuro, in a ceremony that normally lacked the bells and whistles.
When you think of royal weddings, you think of a grand public ceremony, full-fledged celebrations with thousands of well-wishers queuing the streets and a country engulfed in wedding fever. But that was not the case here at all.
This silent affair also marked the end of Mako’s imperial time. The newlyweds are expected to move to New York City, where Komuro works at a law firm.
While some may draw comparisons between the couple and the British royal family, the similarities are somewhat superficial.
Sure, it’s become fairly routine these days for royals to find themselves “happily after” with ordinary people. In the Windsor clan alone, we’ve seen the Queen’s sister Princess Margaret marry photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones, William and Kate, and of course, Harry and Meghan. But marrying a non-royal has also been widely accepted in European royal monarchies: Denmark’s Crown Prince Frederik married marketing executive Mary Donaldson, and Spain’s then-Crown Prince Felipe married former Granthshala+ anchor Letizia Ortiz.
And yes, stepping out of a royal family after falling for an ordinary man – which some disapproved of – is akin to the Sussexes. Harry and Meghan famously stepped back as working royals in favor of a new life in California, but don’t expect the Japanese newlyweds to follow suit.
Ken Roof, director of the Center for Japanese Studies at Portland State University, says, “Members of the British royal family grow up amongst great wealth. And they also spend a lot of time raising money directly for charitable causes, so learn how to do that. Works.” “So when Harry and Meghan went to America telling different stories about the royal family, they managed to make millions and millions of dollars, all while wrapping themselves in feel-good, left-wing causes.”
Roof says that Mako’s departure is a “dramatic exit”, but feels they will opt for a quieter life, now that they are married. “I think what’s going to happen is just going to disappear.”
The 30-year-old isn’t the first Japanese princess to swap the palace for a more normal life. His Aunt Sayako, the only daughter of former Emperor Akihito, was the last to do so in 2005, when she married town planner Yoshiki Kuroda. But in comparison to that match, Mako and Komuro’s union has suffered an unusual level of vitriol from the masses.
It should have been a love story for centuries. The college sweetheart announced her plans to get married in 2017. The enthusiasm initially spread across Japan, but public perceptions soon turned sour.
Kei Kobuta, YouTuber for royal affairs, says, “There are a lot of doubts and misconceptions about Kei Komuro and his mother, and people are afraid of tarnishing the image of the royal family.” Kobuta said that many royal viewers view Mako as a sister or daughter, and believe that she made the wrong choice.
Many in Japanese society hold the world’s oldest monarchy – and especially its women – to mercilessly high standards, which is focused on gender, says Kumiko Nemoto, a professor in the School of Business Administration at Senshu University in Tokyo.
“The Japanese public wants to feel intimacy with members of the royal family, but they also want the family to abide by gender roles and family norms, where a woman, they believe, has male rights in the family and nation. should follow,” she said. telling.
“Perhaps, because many Japanese men and women continue to live their lives with the great constraints of gender roles or the social pressures of traditional family and careers, they may think that a man and a woman must sacrifice themselves for marriage and family. should do,” she said. adds up.
Even Japanese royals need a certain mystery about them, says Christopher Harding, a senior lecturer in Asian history at the University of Edinburgh. “There has been no attempt in Japan to create a ‘media monarchy’ the way there has been progressively in Britain. There is more respect and honor, although this does not prevent certain sections of the Japanese media from doing tabloid-style gossip stories, “He says.
Those smears have taken a toll on the bride who was revealed earlier this month to be suffering from complex post-traumatic stress disorder. She is not among the first royal women in Japan to face intense pressure from public scrutiny.
Harding says Masako married into the royal family believing she could continue her diplomatic career. “The reality has been less kind, at least until recently. Masako found that his main duty was to produce an heir.”
Harding continues, “feminists in Japan, the United States, and elsewhere were greatly disappointed, as they hoped she could represent a new beginning.” “The Japanese public is generally sympathetic to the toll on mental health that an imperial role can take. But it is also skeptical that mental health diagnoses are used to address criticism or cover up deficiencies. “
“This was especially the case with Masako,” he says. “She needed rest as part of her treatment, but some criticized her for avoiding her duties and letting her husband do all the work.”
Mako’s departure would once again restart the debate as to whether royal law should be amended to allow women marrying commoners to keep their royal titles like men, and consequently a reduction of succession. to strengthen the line.
For some, the idea of the so-called “Empress Ruler” on the chrysanthemum throne is an obstacle to the modernization of the monarchy. But Harding says the real important point is the potential loss of patrilineal succession.
“Even when empresses have ruled in the past, the throne has always been passed down the male line,” he explains. “Those in Japan who are keen to preserve the Japanese tradition … worry that if women are allowed to sit on the throne, the country will end up with such an emperor (or empress) at some point in the future. Maybe, those whose mother is of royal blood, but whose father is not. It would be an unbearable break with the past for them.”
(With reporting from Granthshala’s Amiko Jojuka, Selina Wang and Junko Ogura in Tokyo and Nectar Gan in Hong Kong.)
did you know?
Japan’s royal family is shrinking with Mako’s departure. There is currently only one young heir to the throne, Mako’s brother, 15-year-old Prince Hisahito.
Here’s a look at how the existence of the world’s oldest dynasty rests on the shoulders of a schoolboy.
from the royal vault
We mentioned earlier that life as an empress in Japan’s royal family is not an easy ride. Going back to the Granthshala archives, we found this 2019 piece from international correspondent Will Ripley exploring the difficult experience of Empress Michiko of Japan. take a watch:
At a press event on Tuesday afternoon, Mako appeared with her husband in front of a selected group of journalists. The pair apologized for any trouble they caused their marriage, expressing gratitude to supporters.
Thank you for reading our special edition on Princess Mako’s wedding. Tell us what you thought about sending and whether it’s something you’d like to see happen in the future by emailing [email protected] Royal News’ regular programming returns this Friday!
–Max and Lauren
Credit : cnn.it