Princess Mako, fiance all smiles as engagement is finally official

Japanese princess gives up her royal status to marry a piano-loving commoner she fell for because of his 'bright smiles like the sun'

The couple had a long-distance relationship while studying overseas - Princess Mako in Britain and Mr Komuro in the us - for one year.

In a press conference on Sunday, she said she was first attracted to Kei Komuro's "smile like the sun". The two became close in 2012 when they had their orientation session for an exchange program overseas. As she is a female, she will lose royal status as the law does not apply to royal males.

Princess Mako and Kei Komuro addressed the press together for the first time on Sunday.

Japanese Emperor Akihito's oldest grandchild, Princess Mako, has said she is getting married to a university classmate who won her heart with bright smiles and sincerity. Article 12 of the Imperial House Law stipulates that a woman in the Imperial Family shall lose her status in the family if she marries a person outside the family.

Princess Mako became engaged to Kei Komuro, a lawyer, in December 2013.

Over time, Princess Mako said she learned he is "a honest, strong-minded, hard worker, and he has a big heart". However, news of the engagement - and Mako giving up her royal status - didn't make headlines until earlier this year. She is pursuing a doctorate and works as a museum researcher.

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But the announcement was postponed because heavy rain and flooding hit the northern part of the Kyushu region in early July, with Princess Mako and Komuro worrying about the situation in areas afflicted by the disaster and feeling sympathy for affected people.

Komuro, a resident of Yokohama, is working at a Tokyo law firm as well as studying business law at the Hitotsubashi University Graduate School of International Corporate Strategy.

Their engagement will become official in Imperial terms after Komuro's messenger visited the princess' Imperial residence with gifts.

Mako says she has since introduced him to her parents, Prince Akishino - second in line to the Chrysanthemum throne - and Princess Kiko, as someone she wished to "share her future with".

Komuro and Mako will have to go through several more rites until the wedding, which will be 2018, the same year as her grandfather will relinquish the throne. Her younger brother, Prince Hisahito, is the third in line to the throne after their uncle, Naruhito, Crown Prince of Japan, and their father.

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