Less than a week after the Imperial Household Agency announced that Japan’s Princess Ayako will marry a commoner named Kei Moriya, the couple attended a press conference on Monday, July 2, to officially announce their engagement. The smitten pair laughed and smiled alongside each other as they spoke to the press about the proposal, which involved a delayed answer. "He proposed to me this year having a dinner at a restaurant. It was very sudden, so I asked to hold for my answer," Ayako revealed (via CNN). "As we have deepened the relationship including our family, friends and related people, I came to the decision and accepted this proposal."
VIEW GALLERY The engaged pair attended a press conference on July 2, where they announced their engagement Photo: KOJI SASAHARA/AFP/Getty Images
The 27-year-old Princess met the 32-year-old shipping firm employee less than a year ago after being introduced by her mother Princess Hisako, who knew her future son-in-law’s parents from her outreach work at a local NGO. "I have no idea what my mother's expectation about introducing me to Mr. Moriya," she said laughing. "I feel it was a great opportunity readied by our mothers as we grew to feel attracted to each other through many outings and sharing memories."
Kei lost his mom in 2015, while Ayako’s father Prince Takamado died in 2002. The pair noted that the loss of their respective parents brought them closer together. "I would like to form a warm family full of laughter. We both have the experience of sudden loss of an irreplaceable parent, his mother for Mr. Moriya and my father for me," the Japanese Princess said. "We would not take everyday life for granted and want to find the happiness and fun in the daily life." Meanwhile Kei admitted, "I felt even closer to her when she showed understanding of the mental impact of the sudden loss of my mother."
VIEW GALLERY The Princess revealed that she waited to give Kei an answer following his proposal Photo: KOJI SASAHARA/AFP/Getty Images
Ayako and Kei will say “I do” on October 29 at Tokyo's Meiji Jingu shrine. The Princess will lose her royal title upon her marriage to Kei. Japan's centuries-old law requires a Princess to leave the Imperial family if she marries a commoner.
With Ayako and her cousin Princess Mako’s respective marriages to commoners, the number of Imperial family members will drop to 17. "The decreasing of the imperial family is indeed happening," Ayako said during the press conference. "But I will refrain from making comments including the system itself as I am not in the position to answer the questions."