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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 November 2005, 10:09 GMT
Japanese princess weds commoner
Sayako Kuroda and her husband Yoshiki Kuroda attend a press conference shortly after their wedding ceremony at a Tokyo hotel Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2005.
Princess Sayako has lost her royal status by marrying Yoshiki Kuroda
Japan's Princess Sayako has lost her royal status after she married commoner Yoshiki Kuroda, in a ceremony in Tokyo.

Thousands of well-wishers lined the streets between the royal palace and the city hotel where the half-hour marriage rite took place.

Wearing a Western-style white dress and pearls, the princess sipped sake rice wine with her bureaucrat husband.

Marriage to Mr Kuroda, 40, means Princess Sayako loses her title and will have to adjust to a new lifestyle.

The ceremony, which took place in Tokyo's plush Imperial Hotel, was an informal affair by royal standards.

"The princess was so beautiful, she was just like a cherry blossom," said bystander Michiyo Tanimura.

"It's like someone above the clouds is coming closer to ordinary people like us," she told the Associated Press.

Japan's Princess Sayako

About 30 people attended the ceremony, and some 120 guests attended the reception, where they dined on a French-style menu including lobster and caviar jelly and caramel-vanilla sorbet with chestnut creme brulee.

The princess had said her formal farewells to the imperial family at the weekend. She is Emperor Akihito's only daughter and becomes the first princess to abandon her title in 45 years.

Driving lessons

Sayako Kuroda, as she will now be known, told a press conference that her mother and father had reassured her that her family ties were unchanged.

"The empress then hugged me tightly and told me 'Everything's going to be OK,' many times," she said.

Her husband said in the press conference: "While respecting each other's views, I would like to make a quiet home where you can feel at ease."

To prepare for her dramatic change of lifestyle, Princess Sayako has reportedly been taking driving lessons and practising shopping at the supermarket.

The princess and Mr Kuroda, who is a descendant of Japan's now-abolished aristocracy, were childhood acquaintances, but their romance began two years ago at a tennis party thrown by one of Sayako's brothers.

Princess Sayako will lose her royal allowance, but this is eased by a $1.2m dowry from the state.

The couple will live in a rented apartment not far from the palace before moving to a new condominium to be completed next year, media reports said.

Sayako's aunt, Takako Shimazu, was the last princess to lose her royal status when she married a commoner in March 1960.

The Japanese royal household currently faces a succession crisis, with no male heir produced for 40 years. There are moves under way to change the law to let women ascend the throne.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
See the celebrations as the princess heads to the altar



SEE ALSO:
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30 Jul 04 |  Asia-Pacific
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