Barring any unforeseen circumstances, Japan’s Princess Mako will marry her fiancé Kei Komuro later this month. The princess is the eldest daughter of Crown Prince Akishino, the younger brother of the emperor. As she will lose her title and membership in the imperial family after she marries her “commoner” fiancé, media focus has zeroed in on Mako’s postnuptial life. Less attention has been paid to how Komuro will “cope” as the husband of the princess. It is something that many people can only dream of, but if we really think about it, is there anything worse for a non-royal man or woman than being wedded to royalty? Apart from the constant media intrusion, their royal in-laws, as well as their supercilious hangers-on, would be a nightmare. It is therefore understandable that the couple have said they would live in the United States after their marriage. In imperial China , a princess’ consort was known as fuma , or in full, fuma duwei , which was the commander of the reserve horses accompanying a carriage. Originally an honorary title conferred on the emperor’s son-in-law, fuma became a word that meant the husband of a princess by the early 400s. The fortunes, and tribulations, of fuma varied according to the period. During the Eastern Han dynasty (25–220), princesses and their consorts lived apart in separate residences. The latter had to make an official request should he wish to meet his wife. Unlike today’s princesses, those in imperial China rarely made headlines In the Northern and Southern Dynasties period (420–589), fuma in the Chinese regimes south of the Yangtze River could only visit their spouses in the evenings, and they had to walk behind their imperial wives at all times to preserve the dignity, however undeserved, of the imperial house. The Tang dynasty (618–907) was a time when Chinese women enjoyed unparalleled freedom and status. A few princesses of the period, especially in the first half of the dynasty, wielded enormous political power, to the extent of orchestrating the dethronement and even murder of emperors. Many princesses publicly cuckolded their husbands by keeping harems of male lovers, but their consorts would seldom dare to even take a concubine. Even during the Tang dynasty , however, there were already decrees stipulating ways in which married princesses could rein in their hauteur and treat their husband and in-laws with respect. Whether the princesses adhered to these instructions depended on the individual. When an emperor’s daughter threw a tantrum, what could her fuma or his family really do? Chinese women, and princesses, from the Song period (960–1279) onwards practically became the property of their husband and his family, in line with neo-Confucian social mores. Consequently, fuma became much less deferential to their wives. They had no qualms about taking on multiple concubines, often with tacit approval from their imperial fathers-in-law. There were foreign fuma throughout history, when Chinese princesses were married off to foreign rulers to bring peace to China’s frontiers. However, most of these women were low-ranking imperial kinswomen with a tenuous connection with the sitting emperor, maybe a cousin many times removed, who were hastily given a grand title, and then palmed off to “barbarian” rulers who supposedly didn’t know the difference. At least these fuma didn’t have to deal with their Chinese imperial in-laws on a regular basis. Mako-sama and her beau will simply be Mr and Mrs Komuro in the US. Some will see this as a downgrade in status. But if the sheer number of troubled royal marriages in recent decades around the world is anything to go by, it may be the wisest move the young couple will make.