Today in Tokyo, the Imperial Household Agency officially registered the marriage of Princess Mako of Akishino, daughter of the Crown Prince and Crown Princess of Japan, and her longtime fiancé, Kei Komuro. As Japan bids farewell to the princess, who leaves both the imperial house and the country following her marriage, we look back at her decade of sparkling gala appearances.
On October 23, 2011—ten years ago last Saturday—Princess Mako of Akishino celebrated her 20th birthday. The milestone meant that she had officially reached adulthood, and she had become a working member of the imperial family.
Princess Mako appeared in full Japanese court dress for the first time that day. She made an official visit to the Imperial Palace to meet with her grandparents, Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko. With her white and gold gown, she wore her new parure of diamond jewelry: a tiara, earrings, necklace, brooch, and bracelet. The festoon tiara’s floral motif was a play on her mother’s imperial symbol, the iris setosa. The jewels were made by the Japanese jewelry firm Wako.
For years, Princess Mako and her diamond parure have been dependable attendants at the annual New Year audience at the Imperial Palace. Above, she’s pictured standing between her mother, the Princess Akishino, and Princess Akiko of Mikasa, in January 2014.
Here she is, standing between her mother and her sister, Princess Kako of Akishino, at the same event in January 2015. Note that the jewelry doesn’t change—Mako only wore one suite of diamond jewelry during her ten years as a working imperial princess.
And here she is, once again standing between her mother and her sister, for the imperial New Year celebration in January 2016. You can learn more about the tiaras worn by all three of the Akishino princesses here.
Here’s a slightly closer look at Princesses Mako and Kako from the New Year celebrations in January 2017. Even the court dresses are the same! The Imperial Household Agency, which runs the Japanese monarchy, likes order and continuity, to put it mildly.
Princess Mako also wore her parure of diamond jewelry at several state banquets over the years. Above, in April 2017, she wears the jewels with a blue gown for a gala dinner during a state visit from King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia of Spain. She often chose blue gowns for these state dinners: here she is in another blue dress for the Belgian state banquet in October 2016, and again in the same dress for the Luxembourg state dinner in November 2017.
In January 2018, Princess Mako, who was now officially engaged to be married, stood between her mother and Princess Tomohito of Mikasa during the New Year celebrations. A few weeks later, though, the IHA announced that the wedding had been indefinitely postponed.
By January 2019, the matter of Mako’s impending marriage was still far from resolved, and she appeared at the New Year celebrations alongside her aunt, Crown Princess Masako; her mother, the Princess Akishino; and her sister, Princess Kako.
Princess Mako was a key part of the ceremonies surrounding the abdication of her grandfather, Emperor Akihito, and the ascension of her uncle, Emperor Naruhito, in May 2019.
She appeared in full court dress with the rest of the imperial family for Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako’s first audience at the Imperial Palace in May 2019.
And in October 2019, she was part of the celebrations of Emperor Naruhito’s enthronement. Here, she wears her diamond parure as she attends the reception and banquet following the enthronement ceremonies.
One of Princess Mako’s last bejeweled appearances as an imperial princess came in January 2020, just before the pandemic canceled or postponed so many royal events around the world.
She stood with the other imperial princesses, wearing court dress and diamonds, for the New Year celebrations in January 2020.
Today, after a decade of lovely gala appearances and a very long wait to finally be married, Mako officially hangs up her tiara. The current Imperial Household Law states that women who marry lose their imperial status. Going forward, her jewels will return to the imperial vaults, and she will be known as Mako Komuro—even though she is the granddaughter and niece of two emperors, and will likely be the daughter and sister of two more. The Japanese imperial family is hurtling toward a succession crisis, and Mako’s departure from the fold is yet another sign that trouble may soon be brewing if changes aren’t made.