Since the former Princess Mako of Japan wed her college sweetheart, Kei Komuro, last week, endless comparisons have been made with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex as both couples have decided to settle in the United States.
However, their situations could not be more different. One was forced out of the Imperial Family by law, and the others chose to do so of their own volition. One couple was celebrated, and the other was mocked and protested against ahead of the wedding. One couple got to have a wedding in a reasonable time with all the royal splendour, while the other couple had to delay their nuptials for years and ended up getting married with zero royal fanfare.
Let’s take a closer look at how the two sad situations are different.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex had a royal wedding at Windsor Castle live on television. They gained new titles upon their marriage, were senior working members of the Royal Family and lived on royal estates. Their two children, Archie and Lili, although not titled at the moment, will become Prince Archie and Princess Lili upon their grandfather, Prince Charles, ascending to the throne (as is currently stated in the Letters Patent giving the children in the male line (to a certain point) of the monarch the styles of HRH and prince/princess).
Over in Japan, things are very different. Imperial Household Law states: “In case a female of the Imperial Family marries a person other than the Emperor or the members of the Imperial Family, she shall lose the status of the Imperial Family member.”1
This means that, by law, Mako had to renounce her titles and give up her place in the Imperial Family. There was no option to continue as a working member of the Imperial Family or a member of the family at all. She cannot head her own branch of the family; her children cannot hold titles. Once she married Kei Komuro, she had to move out of the royal residence and into a flat in Tokyo with her husband as they were forbidden from living in the palace since she was no longer royal.
I am in no way diminishing the things that the Sussexes and Komuros have gone through. Both couples went through disturbing trials with the public and media. Meghan faced racism and classism in the U.K. that led her on a dark mental health path. Mako and Kei Komuro faced constant backlash because of his mother’s financial problems. His mother borrowed money and reportedly did not pay it back, but he was blamed for her sins. The attacks by the public and media led to Mako being diagnosed with complex post-traumatic stress disorder over the misinformation spread about in Japan.
The Sussexes chose to step back as working members of the Royal Family, but Mako was forced out of the Imperial Family by law. These couples should not be compared against one another.