Gather ‘round, tabloid-hungry freaks, for I bring you another offering to sate your voracious appetite for news about royal couples.
This couple is not the Harry and Meghan of myth and legend. While that duo gained a chokehold on English-language gossip about royal weddings and happily ever afters and antiquated monarchist institutions and the undeniable pressure of being in the public eye, their counterparts in Japan were on a parallel track, dealing with their own scandal sprung from love.
The expected union between Emperor Naruhito’s niece Princess Mako and her fiancé, commoner Kei Komuro, has been plagued by public scrutiny and disapproval for much of their relationship. The lovebirds, who met at Tokyo’s International Christian University in 2012, announced their engagement in 2017 to “broad public support,” per the Washington Post. Mako, by law, would have to give up her title and leave the royal family. But their wedding, which was originally set to take place in 2018, was put on hold after tabloids reported on a financial dispute between Komuro’s mother and her former fiancé over $36,000 — some of which was used to pay for Komuro’s education — that Komuro’s mother argued was a gift, and the former fiancé argued was a loan.
The couple nevertheless stated their intention to still move forward with their marriage, and Komuro has spent the last three years in New York attending Fordham University’s law school and starting a job at a law firm. This week, he made his first appearance in Japan in years in order to prepare for the wedding. He returned from the U.S. with a ponytail that has become the center of its own press cycle, inspiring headlines and TikToks scrutinizing the bold new look. Has Prince Harry ever taken a risk like that? I don’t think so.
Indeed, this is where the paths diverge for these two royal couples whose love blossomed around the same time. Harry and Meghan’s star has only continued to rise since they left the royal family — the pair can be found appearing at events, being honored with prestigious titles, and signing lucrative business deals. Meanwhile, Mako and Komuro, who are forgoing the traditional rituals and even turning down a lump sum of $1.35 million that is typically given to royals abdicating their titles, plan to move to the U.S. for Komuro’s job. Presumably, they will lead a quiet, mostly normal life. But they should know that living off of one not-yet-lawyer’s salary in New York will not be the easiest adjustment. If Harry’s book advance is any indication, however, there’s always money in being a royal-turned-content creator.