Japan’s Princess Mako married her college sweetheart in a muted ceremony that saw her give up her royal status Tuesday—then she almost immediately unleashed years of pent-up fury against the media.
Mako and her now-husband Kei Komuro have endured years of brutal treatment from the Japanese media, with the country’s tabloids making clear they thought he, as a commoner, wasn’t good enough to marry her. Reports have dredged up Komuro’s mom’s financial issues, his dad’s suicide, and even condemned him for wearing a ponytail.
The princess has previously said the harsh media reaction to the announcement of her engagement in 2017 has left her with post-traumatic stress disorder. On Tuesday, two hours after she married Komuro, she delivered a statement to news cameras at a Tokyo hotel, and opened up about how media treatment had made her life unbearable.
“Incorrect information, for some reason, was treated as if it were unmistakable fact, and I felt frightened at the way these groundless tales spread,” she said. “I had feelings of pain and sadness.”
Her husband, who stood alongside her during the statement, followed up with his own, saying: “I love Mako. We only get one life, and I want us to spend it with the one we love... I feel very sad that Mako has been in a bad condition, mentally and physically, because of the false accusations.”
Under Japan’s post-war constitution, the princess must immediately be kicked out of the royal family after marrying a commoner—though the rule only applies to female members of the imperial family. Mako turned down the usual pomp of a royal wedding and also refused to take a payment offered to royal women when they’re ejected from the family.
Even though Mako is now leaving the palace for good, protesters still bothered to gather Tuesday to show their opposition to the wedding. BBC News reported that people gathered in a Tokyo park clutching signs that referenced Komuro’s mother’s minor financial issues. It was reported in 2017 that his mom didn’t repay a $36,000 loan to her ex-fiancé.
In her statement, Mako apologized to anyone who was upset about her marriage, telling reporters: “I am very sorry for the inconvenience caused and I am grateful for those... who have continued to support me... For me, Kei is irreplaceable—marriage was a necessary choice for us.”
Just like another ex-royal couple who suffered intense media scrutiny—Prince Harry and Meghan Markle—the newlyweds are now expected to flee to the United States, where Komuro works as a lawyer.