Turns out Cinderella doesn’t need a ball to meet her prince; she could find him in a bar.
At least that’s how Mary Elizabeth Donaldson, who’s now the crown princess of Denmark, found her prince.
And then there’s Kate Middleton. Her 2011 wedding to Prince William captivated millions of people around the globe. The two of them met in college.
INSIDER rounded up 21 commoners who married into royal families with an explainer for why Princess Diana isn’t one of them:
Grace Kelly — Princess of Monaco
Grace Kelly began her acting career in 1950, but retired in 1956 to marry Rainier III, the Prince of Monaco. They had met during a photo shoot at the Cannes Film Festival in 1955, one Grace almost skipped. The couple had three children.
In 1982, she suffered a minor stroke while driving and was critically injured when the car went over the edge of a 45-foot embankment. Grace died the following night at the hospital.
Charlene Wittstock — Princess of Monaco
Charlene is a former South African Olympic swimmer. She met Prince Albert II (Grace Kelly’s son) during a swimming meet in Monaco in 2000. The couple went public in 2006 at the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics, and married in July 2011. Charlene gave birth to fraternal twins in 2014.
Kate Middleton — Duchess of Cambridge
Kate was studying art history at the University of St. Andrews when she met Prince William in 2001. After dating on-and-off for numerous years, the couple married on April 29, 2011, and millions of people around the world tuned in to watch the ceremony. They have two children: Prince George, born July 2013, and Princess Charlotte, born May 2015.
Silvia Sommerlath — Queen of Sweden
Silvia was working as a hostess at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich when she met then-Prince Carl Gustaf of Sweden. The prince ascended to the throne after the death of his grandfather in 1973. The couple married in 1976 and has three children and five grandchildren.
Daniel Westling — Prince of Sweden, Duke of Västergötland
Daniel was a gym owner and trainer when he met Crown Princess Victoria in 2001, after she attended a training session of his. He started Balance, a gym company, in 2006, but stepped down as CEO in 2009. The two married in June 2010 and have two children.
Sofia Hellqvist — Princess of Sweden, Duchess of Värmland
Before she was a princess, Sofia was a model and reality-TV contestant. Prince Carl Phillip (Silvia’s son and Victoria’s brother) and Sofia began dating in 2010 and married in June 2015. Their first child, Prince Alexander, was born April 2016. They are expecting a second child in September 2017.
Michiko Shōda — Empress of Japan
Michiko met her future husband, then-Crown Prince Akihito, while playing tennis in 1957. Though many officials opposed the relationship because of Michiko’s lineage – including Akihito’s mother, the empress – the couple married in 1959, establishing Michiko as the first commoner to marry into the Imperial Family. They have three children.
Masako Owada — Crown Princess of Japan
Masako graduated from Harvard with a degree in economics, and returned to Japan to study law at the University of Tokyo in 1986. That same year, she met Crown Prince Naruhito (Michiko Shōda’s son) while attending a tea for the duchess of Lugo.
She accepted after two proposals, and the couple wed in 1993. She gave birth to a daughter in 2001, and will become empress consort when her husband ascends the throne.
Máxima Zorreguieta — Queen of the Netherlands
Máxima holds a degree in economics and was serving as the vice president of institutional sales at Deutsche Bank in New York City when she met Prince Willem-Alexander in 1999. They met in Spain during the Sevilla Spring Fair, and it was there that the prince introduced himself solely as “Alexander.” She said she didn’t know he was a prince until later.
They were married in 2002 and have three daughters. Máxima is considered a commoner, though she is a descendant of King Afonso III of Portugal through her father.
Letizia Ortiz — Queen of Spain
Before marrying Prince Felipe VI, Letizia was a journalist and news anchor. The prince and Letizia married in 2004 (her second marriage). The couple has two daughters. Prince Felipe became the king after his father abdicated the throne in 2014, establishing Letizia as the Queen of Spain.
‘Masenate Mohato Seeiso — Queen of Lesotho
Formerly known as Anna Karabo Mots’oeneng, ‘Masenate was studying at the National University of Lesotho in 1997 and became engaged to King Letsie III in 1999. They married in 2000 and have three children.
Mary Elizabeth Donaldson — Crown Princess of Denmark, Countess of Monpezat
Mary Elizabeth met Prince Frederik at the Slip Inn, a bar in Sydney, during the 2000 Summer Olympics, and the rest is history. She moved to Denmark in 2002 and worked as a project consultant for Microsoft Business Solutions for about a year. The couple married in 2004 and have four children.
Marie Agathe Odile Cavallier — Princess of Denmark
Marie had an established career in marketing when she first met Prince Joachim (Prince Frederik’s brother) at a party held by a mutual friend. Though she had initial doubts about marrying into the royal family, the couple was married in May 2008. They have two children, and Marie is also stepmother to the prince’s two sons from his first marriage.
Tatiana Blatnik — Princess of Greece and Denmark
Tatiana graduated from Georgetown with a degree in sociology in 2003, and met Prince Nikolaos that same year. She worked as an event planner for fashion designer Diane von Fürstenberg up until 2010, when she left to focus on her wedding. The couple married in August 2010.
Sonja Haraldsen — Queen of Norway
Sonja first met the then-Crown Prince Harald in 1959. Nine years later, in March 1968, the king gave his permission for the two to marry, as she was a commoner, and they married in August 1968. They have two children. She became queen when her husband ascended to the throne in 1991.
Mette-Marit Tjessem Hoiby — Crown Princess of Norway
Mette-Marit first met Crown Prince Haakon at a garden party during the Quart Festival, Norway’s largest rock festival. When the two met again years later, she was a single mother. They married in 2001 and have since added two more kids to the family.
Rania Al-Abdullah — Queen of Jordan
Before marrying Abdullah bin al-Hussein, Rania worked in marketing for Citibank, and later took a job at Apple Computer in Amman. She met the future king at a dinner party in August 1992 in and they were married in June 1993.
Abdullah ascended to the throne after his father’s death in 1999, making Rania the queen. They have four children.
Jetsun Pema — Queen of Bhutan
It is rumoured that Jetsun Pema met Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck at a picnic when she was seven and he was 17, and that he promised to marry her when they grew up. Jigme became king in 2008, following his father’s abdication. The couple married in 2011 (Jetsun was 21), and had their first child in February 2016.
Meghan Markle — Duchess of Sussex
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry officially wed May 19 in a ceremony at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.
Markle is an actress, activist, fashion designer, and entrepreneur. She also works as a women’s rights activist for the UN’s Women’s Political Participation and Leadership program.
Harry reportedly developed a crush on Markle after seeing her on “Suits” two years before the two were introduced by a mutual friend. They apparently hit it off during a small group gathering.
Jack Brooksbank — no royal title
Eugenie is the youngest daughter of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson. Queen Elizabeth II is her grandmother.
Kei Moriya — married Princess Ayako
Japanese Princess Ayako and Kei Moriya, an employee of shipping company Nippon Yusen, married October 29, 2018.
Ayako renounced her royal title as princess to marry the commoner but told press that she was “filled with joy to get married.”
According to Al Jazeera, only women who marry commoners must renounce their royal status. Men who marry commoners are allowed to stay in the family. As referenced earlier in this slideshow, Emperor Akihito of Japan married Michiko Shōda, who is now Empress of Japan, in 1959.
Diana Spencer — Princess of Wales
Contrary to popular belief, Princess Diana wasn’t a commoner. The “people’s princess” came from a noble family and became Lady Diana in 1975, after her father inherited the title of earl.
Diana became the princess of Wales following her marriage to Prince Charles, and they had two children, William and Harry. Diana and Charles divorced in August 28, 1996, and nearly a year later Diana was killed in a car accident.
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