Princess of Japan Renounces Royal Title to Marry Commoner


We Americans don’t really understand royalty. Perhaps that’s part of the reason why it intrigues us so much.

The regal framework has most definitely seized our collective consciousness. After all, we love stories about dashing princes rescuing damsels in peril, and that’s despite our radical sense of social equality.

But do you know what Americans adore even more? A commoner marrying into royalty. Just consider all of the hullabaloo over Meghan Markle becoming the Duchess of Sussex.

Of course, she’s far from the only ordinary individual to have gained a title by tying the knot. Diana Spencer captured the heart of the world when she married Prince Charles in 1981.

However, many people aren’t aware that, though Diana was a commoner according to British custom, she wasn’t completely removed from the peerage. Her father was an earl, and her family had claimed a title for nearly 400 years.

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Others have come from humbler origins. Actress Grace Kelly famously married Rainier III, the prince of Monaco, in 1956, giving up her screen career.

South African Olympic swimmer Charlene Wittstock followed her example in 2011 when she married Kelly’s son, Prince Albert II. And the tiny, West European nation is far from alone the trend.

Countries such as Sweden, the Netherlands, Spain, and Denmark have all experienced commoners rising to high ranks through marriage. You can also count the Land of the Rising Sun among them.

Japan’s Princess Ayako, who was born to a late cousin of Emperor Akihito, is yet another royal who has found love outside of the court. On July 2, she announced her engagement to Kei Moriya — a 32-year-old employee of a shipping firm.

Ayako had met Moriya a little more than 18 months prior to the announcement. Yet from the beginning, she knew there was something between them.

“I met Mr. Moriya for the first time in December last year, and I remember that our conversation got so lively that it didn’t feel like we had just met and that I had so much fun that I forgot about time,” she told The Japan Times. “As I met him many times, I became attracted to his kind, smart and decisive nature.

“I don’t know what my mother’s intentions were in introducing him to me, but as the two of us went to various places together and shared our time and memories, we became naturally drawn to each other. I think we were able to come this far thanks to the wonderful ties started by our mothers.”

For his part, Moriya found himself attracted to Ayako’s “bright and positive” spirit, as well as her natural kindness to strangers.

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“I also felt we grew closer as she expressed understanding toward the emotional impact of suddenly losing a parent,” he said.

Moriya had lost his mother three years prior, while Ayako’s father died in 2002. However, Ayako and Moriya’s love will have a very different ending than those listed earlier.

According to Imperial House Law, a princess cannot marry a commoner. So when Ayako weds her love in October, she will relinquish her title.

Giving up your heritage is no small step. But in the end, what is a title when compared with love?

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A graduate of Wheaton College with a degree in literature, Loren also adores language. He has served as assistant editor for Plugged In magazine and copy editor for Wildlife Photographic magazine.
A graduate of Wheaton College with a degree in literature, Loren also adores language. He has served as assistant editor for Plugged In magazine and copy editor for Wildlife Photographic magazine. Most days find him crafting copy for corporate and small-business clients, but he also occasionally indulges in creative writing. His short fiction has appeared in a number of anthologies and magazines. Loren currently lives in south Florida with his wife and three children.
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