Photo/IllutrationPrincess Mako leaves her office at the University Museum of the University of Tokyo in the capital's Chiyoda Ward on May 17. (Kazuhiro Nagashima)

With wedding bells in the offing for a granddaughter of Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, the imperial family is set to lose another key member who can perform official duties.

Princess Mako will lose her royal status and be regarded as a commoner once she weds Kei Komuro, a former university classmate.

National rejoicing over the union was tempered by the realization that one less member of the imperial family will be on hand to carry out official duties.

A former senior official with the Imperial Household Agency, noting that the emperor and empress hold Mako, 25, in high regard, said it was a shame that such a “competent" member of the imperial family will shortly be unavailable to play a public role.

Mako is one of three children of Prince Fumihito, the second son of the emperor and empress, and Princess Kiko.

She is patron of two organizations and has attended important functions associated with the imperial family, such as garden parties for dignitaries and other prominent people that are hosted by Akihito and Michiko as well as banquets for state guests.

Mako has traveled alone overseas twice as part of her official duties.

The princess was expected to assume some official duties now performed by Fumihito, who will be the first in line to the Chrysanthemum Throne when his brother Crown Prince Naruhito succeeds Akihito as emperor, possibly between late next year and early 2019.

Her imminent departure from the imperial family has dealt a blow to those involved in the organizations of which Fumihito is a patron, as there were hopes that she would take over her father’s role.

At the Japan Kogei Association, a public-interest entity that promotes Japan's cultural heritage and traditional crafts, she is the third member of the imperial family to serve as its patron.

The organization annually awards patron prizes to artisans of note, and Mako has been involved in the selection process and attended award-giving ceremonies.

“The princess has contributed to promoting the public’s interest in traditional craftwork,” said an official close to the association. “She has been a true inspiration for many craftsmen.”

Hiroshi Suzuki, an official with the Japan Tennis Association, a public-interest entity where she serves as honorary patron, expressed his hope that Mako can somehow continue to play a role in the association.

“The association and the world of Japanese tennis as a whole have been encouraged by her presence, particularly as she is so young," Suzuki said. “My personal wish is that she can continue with some of her activities even after her marriage.”

(This article was written by Akiko Tada and Ayako Nakada.)