Breaking Royal Tradition: Princesses and Princes Who Chose Love Over Status

Image credit: Legion-Media

A modern fairytale: the real-life love stories of royalty marrying commoners.

Princess Mako and Kei Komuro

More than seven years ago, Princess Mako, the eldest daughter of Fumihito, Crown Prince Akishino of Japan, announced she wanted to marry fellow student Kei Komuro. At first, many were sure that the girl's family would try to dissuade her. But Mako held firm, saying she was willing to forsake her family and give up her dowry to be with the man she loved.

After seven long years, she got what she wanted. Shortly after the wedding, Mako and Kay held a press conference to apologise to anyone their marriage might have upset.

Soon after, they left for the United States together. Interestingly, even this happy ending did not make everyone happy: conservatives staged protests on the couple's wedding day in Tokyo.

Emperor Naruhito and Masako Owada

The righteous indignation of Mako's relatives comes across as particularly hypocritical given that her father, the current Emperor of Japan, also married a commoner, Masako Owada. Sure, Masako's family had a certain standing in Japanese society: her father was a diplomat and presided over the International Court of Justice, but there was not a single aristocrat in the Owada family until Masako became the Princess.

By the way, the couple may have been prevented from getting married because Masako's relatives were involved in an environmental disaster that killed 43 people in Japan. However, the scandal was quickly swept under the rug after the Crown Prince and Masako tied the knot.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

Many people are still peeved that one of the world's most desirable bachelors, Prince Harry, married a commoner. When the two started seeing each other, some Britons hated the idea of the prince marrying an ordinary actress. Thus, their eventual marriage was a highly controversial and much-discussed event.

However, several years later, the couple decided to leave the UK. Harry said in an interview that Meghan helped him deal with the trauma of losing his mother and watching the way the rest of the royal family handled her death.

Prince Akihito and Michiko Shoda

Interestingly, the recent wedding of Princess Mako and Kei Komuro created a lot more controversy than the marriage of the Crown Prince Akihito of Japan and his fiancée, Michiko Shoda. The young people met at the court and took their marital vows in 1959, breaking for the first time the centuries-old tradition that saw members of Japan's imperial family only ever choose wives from the aristocracy.

Unlike Princess Mako's groom, the future emperor's bride got the stamp of approval from all the members of the Imperial Household Council. Akihito, who has abdicated as emperor, and his wife still live together.

Abdullah II and Rania Al-Yassin

Rania was born into a middle-class family. She received an excellent education. Before marrying the Crown Prince of Jordan, Rania worked at Citibank and then took a job in the marketing department of Apple Inc.

Abdullah met Rania at a dinner party organised by the bank Rania worked at, and Abdullah's family owned. Abdullah was instantly drawn to her. The two married in June 1993. In 1999, after the death of Abdullah's father, he became the King of Jordan, and Rania became the queen.

Felipe VI and Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano

Queen Letizia of Spain is one of the most famous monarchs in the world. However, she was born a commoner, the daughter of a journalist and a nurse. She followed in her father's footsteps and got a bachelor's and a master's degree in journalism.

In 2003, Letizia got a job as a newsreader. She married her school literature teacher Alonso Guerrero Perez after dating him for ten years, but the marriage only lasted until 2000, when the couple divorced.

Letizia and Felipe, who was at the time the Prince of Asturias, announced their engagement in 2003, which came as a complete surprise for many as the couple had managed to keep their relationship secret before that. The two were married in 2004, with the bride walking down the aisle in a white wedding gown with a 5-metre train.

Prince William and Kate Middleton

Kate Middleton's family had some influence in Britain, but she never had any nobles in her lineage. Many didn't think her relationship with Prince William was serious because Princess Diana's eldest son took a long time to propose; the British tabloids even cruelly nicknamed her Wait-y Katie.

But her pedigree was practically never discussed. William and Kate Middleton married in 2011, their wedding becoming one of the year's most high-profile events.