Japanese princess gives up her royal status to marry a common pianist because of his "bright smiles like the sun".
A Japanese princess is giving up her royal status to marry a commoner she fell in love with.
Japanese Emperor Akihito's oldest grandchild, Princess Mako, 25, said on Sunday she will marry Kei Komuro, who was a classmate of hers at Tokyo's International Christian University. She said she fell in love with him because of his "bright smiles like the sun".
Women are not allowed to succeed Japan's throne, meaning Princess Mako will lose her royal status once she married 25-year-old Mr Komuro, a legal assistant who loves playing jazz piano.
Princess Mako's parents, Prince Akishino and Princess Kiko, expressed delight for their daughter after she introduced Mr Komuro to them as someone she wished to "share her future with".
Mr Komuro said he was so thankful and happy to have been accepted by Princess Mako's parents and her grandparents, Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko.
At a news conference, Princess Mako said: "First I was attracted by his bright smiles like the sun."
She revealed they talked for the first time at an event for students ahead of a study-abroad program in Shibuya, Tokyo, about five years ago. Over time, she said she learned he is "a sincere, strong-minded, hard worker, and he has a big heart".
The couple had a long-distance relationship while studying overseas for a year, with Princess Mako in Britain and Komuro in the US. Komuro proposed to her after dinner in December 2013.
Mr Komuro pledged to have "a relaxed and peaceful" home with Princess Mako.
"Having a family still goes beyond my imagination, but I hope to make one that is warm, comfortable and filled with smiles," Princess Mako said.
Details of their wedding have not been decided, and palace officials say the ceremony is expected sometime around autumn next year after a series of rituals, including one that authorises the engagement.