International Royals

Meet Princess Mako of Japan who lived a secret British life

Her fame in Japan rivals that of Duchess Catherine, but when she attended university in the UK, Princess Mako did the impossible and went undetected for an entire year.

By Blake Nadilo
Princess Mako of Japan

Her official title is Her Imperial Highness Princess Mako of Akishino and she’s the first born granddaughter of the Japanese emperor – but as she jetted off to England to study a Masters in Art Museum and Gallery Studies she went completely unrecognised.

At 23, Princess Mako is rarely seen out of public eye and is adored by the people of Japan. She's not only considered a style icon, but she usually has a packed schedule filled with royal engagements, including inspiring work with the deaf community.

So it’s pretty fascinating to think that Japan’s answer to Kate Middleton has lived a totally secret life at the University of Leicester – in fact, it’s the stuff you'd see in a movie!

Princess Mako works closely with the deaf community in Japan and can sign fluently.
Princess Mako works closely with the deaf community in Japan and can sign fluently.

Chatting to the Leicester Mercury, the Princess’ course supervisor, Professor Simon Knell revealed that it was only Japanese students who immediately recognised her, but out of respect, they largely left her alone.

“She was just a fantastic student," explained the Professor, “you'd like any student to be polite and engage with the ideas you put forward and put their own ideas forward.”

"She's modest and very kind and just a really nice person,” he added.

Known as Mako at Uni, the Princess lived in on-campus accommodation, had no special treatment and even the people of Japan were kept in the dark about her time in England.

It was only as the royal finished off her Masters that a press conference was called in her homeland to reveal the news.

Much like the Duchess of Cambridge, Princess Mako's simple and elegant style is the envy of Japan!
Much like the Duchess of Cambridge, Princess Mako's simple and elegant style is the envy of Japan!

“We are delighted that Princess Mako chose to study with us and trust that she had a wonderful time in Leicester," Professor Paul Boyle, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leicester told the paper.

“We will be proud to count her among our alumni and hope that she will continue to engage with our university in the future,” he continued.

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