Japanese princess gives up her title for love

Riches to rags: Princess Mako met her future husband at a party while at University. © PA

Princess Mako is engaged to a commoner. When married, she will lose her royal status for good. The story took centre stage last week. Why does the world care so much?

What’s happening

Last week, the tale of Japanese Princess Mako’s engagement to a commoner named Key Komuro enchanted the world. It was the focus of the Japanese press, and became one of the most read stories on several websites all around the globe. The story’s popularity drowned out other, bigger news stories. Why?

Find out more

Princesses in Japan lose their royal status when they marry. So, when Mako marries she will no longer be royal. She will lose her allowance, begin paying taxes, and gain the right to vote.

News of the engagement sparked a row about the future of the Japanese monarchy. Also the Japanese government announced that it would pass a law allowing the Emperor to resign from his duties. In Japan female members of the Imperial family cannot inherit the throne, but finding an heir could be problematic, because of the scarcity of qualified males. Many think women should be allowed to reign, and keep their royal status when they marry.

But this is not all that is driving the story’s popularity. It reads like a fairytale — is this why the world lost its head over it?

Some say…

“Yes! It is the romance,” say some. It is a reverse Cinderella. It is Shakespeare’s Cymbeline come to life, the Prince and The Pauper with a romantic twist. We all enjoy the age old story of love triumphing over wealth and status. Who does not like to believe we too will one day find a person so special that we would give up everything for them?

Others think…

“What nonsense”, say others. This story has us hooked because it is proof that behind the ritual and tradition, royals are ordinary people. Mako will abandon everything that made her life extraordinary in exchange for a completely normal life, like the rest of us. In a world full of inequality, there is something very satisfying about that ending.

You Decide

  1. Is this a story about romance or politics?

Activities

  1. Write a list of things that Princess Mako needs to know about how to live a normal life in 2017.

Some People Say...

“Royal families are outdated — we should get rid of them.”

What do you think?

Word Watch

Resign
To leave a job or responsibility. Previously, only when the emperor died could a new man take his place.
Cinderella
An old folk tale, told by the Grimm brothers: a poor, abused servant girl marries into royalty.
Cymbeline
In Shakespeare’s play Imogen, an ancient British king’s daughter, marries a low-born man, against her father’s wishes.
Prince and The Pauper
In Mark Twain’s novel, Henry VIII’s son swaps places with a poor man, and must adjust to life on the streets of London.

Subjects

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