Japan's Princess Ayako just surrendered her royal title to marry a commoner
Japan's Princess Ayako has relinquished her royal status by marrying a commoner in a ritual-filled ceremony on Monday.
Ayako and her groom, shipping company worker, Kei Moriya, were shown on national news, walking slowly before their guests at Tokyo's Meiji Shrine.
The wedding took place in one of the pagoda-esque buildings in the shrine complex, and according to Japanese media, the ceremony included an exchange of rings, and the sharing of a cup of sake.
Both rituals are relatively routine for Shinto-style weddings.
The 28-year-old daughter of Emperor Akihito's cousin will reportedly receive a lump sum payment of 106.75 million yen ($1.3 million) from the state after marrying 32-year-old Morita, who is an employee of the major shipping firm, Nippon Yusen.
Ayako wore a Heian-era style hairdo - which was swept back into a ponytail - and a traditional robe which featured a red and green pattern.
She later changed into a red Japanese robe, while Moriya was dressed in coattails throughout the ceremony.
"I am filled with happiness," Ayako said when speaking to reporters after the wedding. "I am awed by how blessed I am. I will leave the imperial family today, but I will remain unchanged in my support for his majesty and her majesty".
The shrine where the ceremony took place holds great symbolic importance. The Meiji Shrine, which was opened in 1920, is dedicated to the deified souls of Ayako's great-great grandfather Emperor Meiji, and his wife, Empress Shoken.
"I am very happy that we held the wedding at this Meiji Shrine where my great grandfather Meiji Emperor is worshiped," Ayako said.
Princess Ayako is the youngest child of Princess Hisako and the late Prince Takamodo - the cousin of Emperor Akihito. According to Japan's imperial law, female members of the royal family forfeit their titles, allowance and status if they choose to wed someone who does not have royal or aristocratic family ties.
The same rule does not apply to male members of the royal family.
Moriya has previously said that he hopes to help Ayako adjust to a commoner's life: "I want us to work together, hand in hand, to create a family filled with smiles."