24 commoners who married into royalty

Ken Ishii/Getty ImagesFormer Japanese Emperor Akihito married a commoner — the first emperor to do so.
  • Royals around the world have fallen in love with commoners.

  • Mary Elizabeth Donaldson, who’s now the crown princess of Denmark, met her prince at a bar.
  • Meghan Markle is a real-life American fairytale.
  • Former Japanese Emperor Akihito was the first emperor to marry a non-royal.
  • Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.

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.

Actress Meghan Markle joined the royal ranks after marrying Prince Harry in a stunning ceremony at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle in May.

Former Japanese Emperor Akihito married a commoner – the first emperor to do so – in an effort to modernise his monarchy:He abdicated his throne to the crown prince.

INSIDER rounded up 24 commoners who married into royal families with an explainer for why Princess Diana isn’t one of them.

Alana Bunte was an American model before she married Prince Casimir zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn, an Austrian descendant of England’s King James II.

David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Luisa BeccariaThe prince previously dated ‘Real Housewives of New York’ star Tinsley Mortimer.

Alana Bunte and Prince Casimir were wed on June 3 in a 12th-century castle in Bendorf, Germany.

The couple announced their engagement in June 2017, after meeting in London nearly four years ago.

Prince Casimir had previously been married to Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, but they divorced in 2005. He then dated “Real Housewives of New York” star Tinsley Mortimer before he met Bunte.

The prince was born into German royalty, and is a descendant of James II and his illegitimate son, James Fitzjames, first duke of Berwick. He’s the third child of the Prince and Princess of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn, a former independent county in Germany.

Bunte studied art and design at University of the Arts and Central Saint-Martins in London.

Grace Kelly became royalty after tying the knot with Rainier III, the Prince of Monaco.

Grace Kelly began her acting career in 1950, but retired in 1956 to marry Rainier III. 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.

Former South African Olympic swimmer Charlene Wittstock married Prince Albert II, the Prince of Monaco.

Michael Steele/Getty ImagesThe couple just celebrated their sixth wedding anniversary.

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, who became the Princess of Monaco, gave birth to fraternal twins in 2014.

Kate Middleton is now known as the Duchess of Cambridge.

Chris Jackson/Getty ImagesKate will become queen when William becomes king.

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 three children: Prince George (born July 2013), Princess Charlotte (born May 2015), and Prince Louis (born in April 2018).

Silvia Sommerlath became the Queen of Sweden once she married Prince Carl Gustaf of Sweden.

Andreas Rentz/Getty ImagesSilvia is the longest-serving 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 seven grandchildren.

Commoner Daniel Westling took on the title of Prince of Sweden, Duke of Västergötland with his marriage to Victoria, Crown Princess.

Ian Gavan/Getty ImagesHis wife is next in line for the throne.

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.

Before becoming Princess of Sweden, Duchess of Värmland, Sofia Hellqvist was a model and reality TV contestant.

Ragnar Singsaas/Getty ImagesThe couple’s family is continuing to grow.

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 in April 2016. They welcomed their second child, Prince Gabriel, in August 2017.

Michiko Shōda, former Empress of Japan, met her future husband, then-Crown Prince Akihito, while playing tennis in 1957.

Ken Ishii/Getty ImagesThey have been married for 60 years.

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, now Empress Consort of Japan, married then-Crown Prince Naruhito in the ’90s.

Edwina Pickles/Fairfax Media/Getty ImagesShe also studied international relations at Oxford for a short time as a postgraduate study.

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, Aiko, in 2001.

Máxima Zorreguieta became Queen of the Netherlands after exchanging vows with Prince Willem-Alexander.

Michel Porro/Getty ImagesShe can speak three languages.

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 was a journalist and news anchor prior to marrying Prince Felipe VI and becoming Queen of Spain.

Carlos Alvarez/Getty ImagesShe is the first Spanish queen to be a commoner.

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.

With her marriage to King Letsie III, ‘Masenate Mohato Seeiso became known as 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 is the Crown Princess of Denmark, Countess of Monpezat.

Torsten Laursen/Getty ImagesShe will become queen when her husband becomes king.

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.

Princess Marie of Denmark went by the name Marie Agathe Odile Cavallier before marrying royalty.

Harold Cunningham/Getty ImagesThe couple loves to ski together.

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.

Princess Tatiana of Greece and Denmark is married to Prince Nikolaos.

Ian Gavan/Getty ImagesThe monarchy was abolished in 1974.

Tatiana Blatnik 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, tied the knot with then-Crown Prince Harald.

Jørgen Gomnæs, the Royal Court / Getty ImagesThey have been married for 51 years.

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, now the Crown Princess of Norway, has been married to royalty for almost 18 years.

Ragnar Singsaas/Getty ImagesHer husband is the heir apparent to the Norwegian throne.

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 became the Queen of Jordan after marrying Abdullah bin al-Hussein.

Chris Jackson/Getty ImagesShe earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration from the American University in Cairo just two years before marrying the prince.

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.

The Queen of Bhutan was known as Jetsun Pema prior to her royal wedding.

Triston Yeo/Getty ImagesShe studied at Regent’s College in London.

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 became the Duchess of Sussex after exchanging vows with Prince Harry.

Ben Birchall/WPA Pool/Getty ImagesPrince Harry and Meghan Markle tied the knot in 2018.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry officially wed on May 19, 2018, 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.

The bride wore a stunning Givenchy gown for the ceremony, which was filled with non-traditional hints of the couple’s relationship. Their vows were changed from “man and wife” to “husband and wife.”

See all of her coverage of the royal wedding here.

Jack Brooksbank doesn’t have a royal title, but he married royalty.

Toby Melville/WPA Pool/Getty ImagesJack Brooksbank and Princess Eugenie during their October 2018 wedding.

Jack Brooksbank, a brand ambassador for George Clooney’s tequila company Casamigos,married Princess Eugenie in October 2018.

Eugenie is the youngest daughter of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson. Queen Elizabeth II is her grandmother.

Kei Moriya married Japan’s 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.

King Maha Vajiralongkorn of Thailand married his personal bodyguard and longtime partner Gen. Suthida Tidjai, now known as Queen Suthida.

On May 1, the king of Thailand married Suthida Tidjai in a lavish surprise ceremony where he poured sacred water on her head. The event took people by surprise because the royal palace never acknowledged the pair’s relationship.

Suthida worked as a flight attendant on Thai Airways and later became a general in Thailand’s army before joining Vajiralongkorn’s security detail.

Contrary to popular belief, Princess Diana of Wales (formerly known as Diana Spencer) 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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