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Last year it was big news around Japan and the rest of the world (well, at least in circles that follow royal families) when Princess Mako, the eldest daughter of Prince Akishino and granddaughter of Emperor Akihito, gave up her royal status in the name of love. However, perhaps Princes Mako was actually setting a new trend, now that Princess Ayako, Mako’s second cousin and daughter of the late Prince Takamado, has just announced she’s doing the same in order to tie the knot with her year-long boyfriend Kei Moriya.
You can thank to situation in part to the parents of the two, who introduced the pair just under a year ago. Princess Ayako and Moriya, a worker for the Japanese shipping firm NKY Line, were brought together by their parents who worked alongside each other at an NGO. Ayako’s mother thought it would be beneficial for her to meet Moriya in the hope of inspiring Ayako to becoming more engaged in human rights, especially in global child welfare, but she became engaged in marriage, too.
Ayako’s previous history in the area of humanitarian work may have been one of the elements that united the pair. Ayako earned her master’s degree in social work, while Moriya, like his late mother, is a board member of the Tokyo nonprofit Children Without Borders.
The country boasts the world’s oldest continuous hereditary monarchy, with a line that reaches back to 660 BC, when it’s said the first-ever emperor, Jimmu, ascended to the throne. It’s said the line has remained unbroken to this day.
What’s interesting is that Princess Noriko, Ayako’s sister, also left the royal family in 2014 after she fell in love and married another commoner, a Shinto priest. With all these princesses leaving the throne, it means that after Ayako and Moriya get married, the official count of the Japanese royal family will sit at just 17 members.
Although Japan’s monarchy is said to be the oldest in the world, perhaps – like the attempts made by the British Royal family – it’s in need of a little updating, lest it disappear completely. Currently, the move to force women who marry commoners to leave the family is being looked at by Japanese legislation, but they had better move fast, 17 people is less than two football teams!