Japan’s Princess Ayako and her husband-to-be Kei Moriya faced reporters for the first time Monday to talk about their plans for the future.
The smiling couple met less than a year ago and Moriya proposed not long after, though Ayako took some time to reply, she said.
“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 said. “As we have deepened the relationship including our family, friends and related people, I came to the decision and accepted this proposal.”
Ayako and Moriya first announced their marriage last week, a move that will force her to leave the Imperial Household. Under Japanese law, royals who marry commoners are not allowed to retain their royal status.
Ayako’s departure will reduce the number of members of the Imperial Household to 18. She declined to comment on the issue.
“The decreasing of the imperial family is indeed happening,” she said Monday. “But I will refrain from making comments including the system itself as I am not in the position to answer the questions.”
The couple’s first public event was tainted by the announcement that Emperor Akihito had suffered a dizzy spell. His doctor advised him to rest so he was unable to meet with the happy couple Monday.
“I was able to see Her Majesty, the Empress, and received warm and heartfelt congratulations from His and Her Majesty, ” Ayako said. “I would like to keep the congratulatory words in my heart.”
Ayako’s mother, Princess Takamodo, knew Moriya’s parents from her outreach work at a local nongovernmental organization, and made the introduction in the hope that her daughter would be inspired by global welfare activities. However, the pair’s attraction to each other was unexpected.
“I have no idea what my mother’s expectation about introducing me to Mr. Moriya,” she said amid laughter. “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.”
Moriya, whose mother passed away in 2015, said that he was struck by Ayako’s kindness and wanted to spend his life with her.
“I felt even closer to her when she showed understanding of the mental impact of the sudden loss of my mother,” he said.
Princess Ayako said she felt the same way, and added that both their experiences of loss helped bind them 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,” she said. “We would not take everyday life for granted and want to find the happiness and fun in the daily life.”
The couple will officially mark their engagement on August 12, and wed at Tokyo’s Meiji Jingu shrine on October 29.