Who needs the title of “princess” when you have love? Not Japan’s Princess Ayako, who forfeited her royal title and status on Monday after walking down the aisle to wed her fiancé Kei Moriya, a non-royal with a career in the shipping industry.
Ayako is the third daughter of the late Prince Takamado, who was a first cousin of Emperor Akihito. She announced her engagement to Moriya over the summer — and now they’ve tied the knot in a traditional ceremony in Tokyo’s Meiji Shrine on Monday. While marriage is a big, life-changing step for anyone, it’s an especially bold move for 28-year-old Ayako, who recently completed a graduate degree in social work. According to Japanese imperial law, female royal family members must give up their titles, status and allowance when they marry someone who isn’t already royal or aristocratic themselves. (Male family members don’t have the same repercussions for choosing spouses who aren’t members of a royal family.) But Ayako seems committed to following her heart. She will reportedly receive nearly $950,000 for living expenses, but otherwise the royal life is over for Ayako.
“I am awed by how blessed I am,” Ayako is reported as saying just after the ceremony. The Shrine itself also holds familial significance for her: it’s named after her great-great-grandfather, Emperor Meiji.
She’s also not the first princess in her family to move away from the monarchy. Her relative, Princess Mako, also planned to marry a commoner last year, announcing she would forfeit her title as well in the process. But the pair have since put a halt on their wedding plans, postponing the nuptials indefinitely. Meanwhile, Emperor Akihito is planning to abdicate in favor of his son in the coming years, a major step away from tradition. He has one male grandson.
Correction, Oct. 29: The original version of this story misstated Ayako’s relationship to Emperor Meiji. He is her great-great-grandfather, not her great-grandfather.