Japan’s Imperial Princess Ayako has accepted a proposal from commoner and shipping company worker Kei Moriya, marking the third time in less than five years that an Imperial Princess has decided to give up her title for love.
During a press conference to announce their engagement on Monday, the princess explained that her mother introduced her to Moriya last year. (Princess Takamodo knew his mother, who passed away in 2015, from the board of a charity she patronizes.)
“I have no idea what my mother’s expectation [was in] introducing me to Mr. Moriya,” Princess Ayako said during the press conference, according to CNN. “I feel it was a great opportunity readied by our mothers as we grew to feel attracted to each other through many outings and sharing memories.”
Moriya popped the question soon after they met, but the princess needed time to process before accepting her fiancé’s offer. “He proposed to me this year having a dinner at a restaurant. It was very sudden, so I asked to hold for my answer,” Princess Ayako said. “As we have deepened the relationship including our family, friends, and related people, I came to the decision and accepted this proposal.”
Unlike Princes Harry and William in the UK, Princess Ayako, a second cousin to Emperor Akihito, must abdicate her position in the Japanese Imperial family as per Japanese Imperial law. In 2014, her sister, then-Princess Noriko, left the royal family to marry her husband, also a commoner. The princess’ cousin Princess Mako (the eldest granddaughter of the Emperor) is also engaged to a commoner, although her wedding is on hold until 2020.
Because of their abdications, the Japanese Imperial family is shrinking, which has caused concern among Japanese Imperialists. The only prince in the family is 11 years old, and because laws state that women in the family must give up their titles to marry commoners, some are calling for a change in Imperial Law.
For now, Ayako and Moriya will celebrate an official engagement ceremony in August and marry at Tokyo’s Meiji Jingu shrine on October 29.
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(photo via Koji Sasahara/AFP/Getty Images)