Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Princess Mako and her now-husband Kei Komuro in happier times
Princess Mako, the first female royal in 70 years to marry a commoner, and her boyfriend have been married in a low-key ceremony in Japan.
Japan’s emperor and empress were not present for the wedding, which took place in a Tokyo temple on Saturday.
The groom, Kei Komuro, is a 29-year-old semi-professional ice hockey player.
Royal experts said the wedding, low on sparkle, had been designed to minimise any potential “friction” between the emperor and empress.
Japan’s emperor is the most ancient of the world’s living royals, ruling over an empire that covers almost half the globe. He is known as the “eternal head of state”.
The deeply religious head of state, Akihito, has said he wants to abdicate in age in favour of his 65-year-old daughter, who is only third in line to the throne.
Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The wedding was held in front of a small crowd of onlookers
However, he is legally bound to stay on until the age of 60 in accordance with the Chrysanthemum Throne Act, which is passed down by the emperor’s family.
The date for the abdication is not known – and has been widely speculated to be in mid-2023.
King Akihito and Empress Michiko retired from public life last August after being married for nearly two decades.
Image copyright Reuters Image caption Princess Mako appeared in a traditional white gown at the ceremony
Princess Mako, 25, is the daughter of Crown Prince Naruhito, who had a daughter in December 2014.
It was not immediately clear why Princess Mako was allowed to marry a commoner. According to the emperor’s long-held tradition, only female royal family members who get married are given a permanent status as princesses or maples, which mean they are not allowed to wed a non-royal.
But the act was amended in 2012 to allow empresses and princes – including Naruhito and his brother, Akishino – to marry men of other ages and sexes.
Queen Michiko has married a younger man. Her third husband is Kei Danmari, 56, a construction worker.
Princess Mako’s wedding ceremony was held before a small group of people, including her family and some small media.
The duchess of Cambridge, whose wedding was part of a lavish spectacle, has been a favourite of Princess Mako’s.
It was Prince William and Kate’s first wedding as a married couple when they married in 2011.
The royal couple and their children William and Harry attended Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene’s wedding in South Africa in 2011.
Prince Albert and Charlene gave Princess Madeleine an official role at their wedding, as a friend of their four children.