Princess Mako, a niece of the Japanese Emperor, has reportedly turned down a £1-million handout from the government and shunned traditional royal ceremonies as she prepares to marry her boyfriend before moving to New York.
A million-pound payment is usually given as compensation to female family members who are forced by law to lose their royal status upon marriage.
The princess, 29, will be the first woman of the post-war Imperial family to marry without the Shinto rituals that accompany a royal union.
It was in September 2017 that the Imperial Household Agency announced the engagement of the couple, who had met five years earlier while studying at university in Tokyo.
Just five months later, however, the engagement was postponed amid a public scandal over an alleged financial dispute between Komuro’s mother and her former fiancé.
The controversy centred on a payment of 4 million yen (£26,380) from the mother’s former partner towards the costs of Komuro’s education. The ex-fiancé claimed it was a loan that should have been repaid.
Komuro moved to the US shortly after to study at Fordham University’s law school in New York, before graduating in May this year.
Despite an ongoing media furore over the financial dispute and tepid public support for their relationship, the couple have long been set on marriage.
Komuro issued a statement in April seeking to correct so-called misunderstandings about his mother’s financial status and reiterated his wish to wed the princess, having earlier offered to repay the disputed amount.
Princess Mako has also had her say, commenting last November that marriage was “necessary” for the couple.
Meanwhile, her father Crown Prince Fumihito – younger brother of the emperor – voiced low-key approval last year but also cited the importance of public support.
“I mean, I approve of them getting married,” he said. “The Constitution says marriage shall be based only on the mutual consent of both sexes. If that is what they really want, then I think that is something I need to respect as a parent.”
The couple’s decision to break with tradition casts a spotlight on the future of Japan’s Imperial family, in particular its controversial male-only succession rules.
With women having to give up their royal status upon marrying, the family is shrinking in size. Prince Hisahito, 14 – Princess Mako’s brother and second in line to the throne – is the only heir of his generation.
The government has been exploring the possibility of allowing women to retain their status after marrying commoners. However, there is deep-rooted opposition among conservatives to the idea of amending the male-only succession rule.
Princess Mako is likely to skip an engagement ceremony called Nosai no Gi, during which gifts are exchanged between the families of the betrothed.
The couple are also expected to bypass Choken no Gi, which involves an official meeting between the new couple and the emperor and empress.