Princess Mako of Japan has formally announced her engagement to commoner Kei Komuro after receiving the emperor’s approval.
The engagement announcement kicks off a lengthy marriage process, and it also means the princess will lose her royal status.
Under a controversial Japanese law female imperial family members forfeit their status upon marriage to a commoner, whereas male members do not.
In a press conference on September 3, Princess Mako said she was first attracted to Kei Komuro’s “smile like the sun”.
She said: “I was aware since my childhood that I’ll leave a royal status once I marry.
“While I worked to help the emperor and fulfill duties as a royal family member as much as I can, I’ve been cherishing my own life.”
The formal announcement came from Japan’s Imperial Household Agency on September 3, after local media reported news of the planned engagement in May.
Kei Komuro is a 25-year-old law firm employee. The couple met five years ago while studying at the same university.
In a TV conference, Kei Komuro described Princess Mako as someone who quietly watched over him “like the moon”.
Princess Mako, 25, is the eldest child of Prince Fumihito, whose official title is Prince Akishino. She is pursuing a doctorate and works as a museum researcher.
The engagement announcement was originally expected in July, but was postponed after a rain disaster hit western Japan.
According to the public broadcaster NHK, the wedding is expected to take place in 2018.