- Everything that Meghan Markle and Prince Harry do captivates the entire world, but s he is not the first American to marry into royalty.
- Grace Kelly married the Prince of Monaco in 1956.
- Edward VIII, the king of England, famously abdicated the throne to marry American divorcée Wallis Simpson.
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From Princess Grace to Queen Noor of Jordan, there is a long history of Americans marrying into the royal family of another country.
While Meghan Markle might be the most famous today, here are 15 other Americans who have paved the way to nobility.
Grace Kelly married the Prince of Monaco, thus becoming the Princess of Monaco.
Grace Kelly was one of the most famous actresses of the 20th century. She met her future husband, Prince Rainier III of Monaco, during a photo shoot. They had three children: Princesses Caroline and Stephanie, and Prince Albert. The two were married from 1956 until Kelly’s tragic death in 1982, when she suffered a stroke and crashed her car.
Kelly is still part of our cultural zeitgeist. Nicole Kidman portrayed the princess in the biopic “Grace of Monaco” in 2014, and Miranda Kerr’s wedding dress in 2017 was inspired by the timeless beauty of Kelly’s.
Marie-Chantal Miller became the Crown Princess of Greece after marrying the Crown Prince of Greece, despite Greece not having been a monarchy since 1973.
Marie-Chantal Miller, also known as the Crown Princess of Greece, is more than just a princess. She is the founder of her own children’s clothing brand, called Marie-Chantal, and a mother of five. In fact, her oldest daughter just celebrated her 24th birthday in July.
Wallis Simpson married Edward VIII, the king of England — that is, until he decided to abdicate the throne for love.
Meghan Markle made news not only for being an American marrying into the royal family, but also for being a divorcée. That being said, she’s not the first divorced American woman to do so. That distinction goes to Wallis Simpson.
Simpson began an affair with Edward VIII while she was still married to her second husband. When they decided to marry, the Church of England didn’t approve, as they wouldn’t accept divorcée marriages if the ex-spouse was still alive. Edward VIII, then king, was faced with a choice: the crown or love. He famously chose love and abdicated the throne in December 1936. He was then made Duke of Windsor by his brother and successor, King George VI.
Rita Hayworth married the son of a sultan, but it didn’t last.
Hayworth was another very famous actress during the 20th century. Before her royal wedding, she was known as the “Love Goddess,” and it is said that’s why Prince Aly Khan pursued her after her divorce from Orson Welles. Khan’s royalty stemmed from his father, Aga Khan – a direct descendant of the prophet Muhammad.
Christopher O’Neill married a Swedish princess, but he’s still just Mr. Christopher O’Neill.
While O’Neill was born in London, he holds dual-citizenship for the USA and the UK. He married Princess Madeleine in 2013, and they have three children together.
O’Neill himself has never taken a royal title, because he’s declined Swedish citizenship, and is therefore officially known as Mr. Christopher O’Neill.
Lee Radziwill, Jackie Kennedy’s younger sister, married a Polish prince.
Caroline Lee Radziwill was an American socialite and former actress, known for her impeccable sense of style (she was named to the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame in 1996).
She was been married and divorced three times – in 1959, the same year that she divorced her first husband, Michael Temple Manfield, she married Prince Stanislaw Albrecht Radziwill of Poland. They had two children together, Anthony and Tina, and were married for 15 years. She later married Herbert Ross, but divorced in 2001. She died in 2019 at the age of 85.
Lisa Halaby married the King of Jordan, making her Queen Noor.
Lisa Halaby was married to King Hussein of Jordan from 1978 until his death in 1999. Formerly an urban planner, the two met at an airport dedication to the king’s late wife, Queen Alia. They were engaged after a six-week courtship and had four children together: Prince Hamzah, Prince Hashim, Princess Iman, and Princess Raiyah.
Queen Noor became the first American-born queen of an Arab country. She needs constant protection – King Hussein survived over 25 assassination attempts.
Ariana Austin married an Ethiopian prince she met at a club, Prince Joel Makonnen, the great-grandson of Emperor Haile Selassie I.
The two originally met in a nightclub in DC, but he didn’t tell his girlfriend he was a prince until much later. The two got married in September 2017 in an over-the-top event that lasted five days and included over 300 guests. She’s now known officially as Princess Ariana Makonnen.
Alexandra Miller married Prince Alexandre von Fürstenberg, but it isn’t her family’s first brush with royalty.
The Millers are essentially a royal family in their own right: Alexandra is Marie-Chantal of Greece’s younger sister, making her brother-in-law the future king of Greece (if the monarchy is ever re-established), and her ex-mother-in-law is famous fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg.
Miller married Prince Alexandre von Furstenberg in 1995, had two children, and then divorced in 2002. She’s now known as a furniture designer, and was the creative director of Diane von Furstenberg’s company DVF.
Hope Cooke married the last King of Sikkim, the smallest kingdom in Asia.
Hope Cooke married the Crown Prince Palden Thondup Namgyal in 1963, after meeting him as a college student travelling through India – they married two years later.
When the prince was named king of the tiny Himalayan nation, she became Her Highness Hope La, Gyalmo of Sikkim. However, Sikkim was annexed into India in 1975, and the king was put under house arrest. They divorced in 1980, though Cooke had already moved back to the US with her children. The king died from cancer two years later.
Kelly Rondestvedt became Her Highness Hereditary Princess Kelly of Saxe-Coburg und Gotha when she married a German prince.
Before becoming a German princess, Rondestvedt was an investment banker in NYC, which is where she met her now husband, Prince Hubertus of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. He’s the prince of an area in Bavaria called Saxe-Coburg und Gotha, which his family ruled over until 1918.
They married in 2009 and share three children.
Fun fact: King George V changed the name of his house from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to Windsor in 1917, due to anti-German sentiment caused by WWI.
Sarah Butler married the Crown Prince of Iraq, becoming Her Royal Highness Princess Sarah Zeid.
Her husband, Prince Zeid bin Ra’ad, is part of the Jordanian House of Hashemite, as well as being the Crown Prince of Iraq (though Iraq no longer has a monarchy). That aside, marrying him in 2000 made her Her Royal Highness Princess Sarah Zeid.
They have three children and live in New York.
Before becoming a princess, she worked for the UN, in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations.
Kendra Spears married the great-grandson of a Sultan, whom she was introduced to by Naomi Campbell.
While she is an official princess, she’s not a royal one. Her husband’s family is part of the historical Iranian royal dynasty, but they don’t have any role in government and don’t rule over a specific geographical area.
Spears and her husband live in Switzerland and have two children.
Olivia Wilde married an Italian prince when she was only 19.
Olivia Wilde married Tao Ruspoli, the son of Prince Alessandro Ruspoli, six months after she met him in 2003. The two were married until 2011, when Wilde filed for divorce. She has said that getting married so young “stunted her growth.”
Now, Wilde has two children with actor Jason Sudeikis: Otis and Daisy.
Meghan Markle married Prince Harry in May 2018.
Meghan Markle is one of the most famous examples of an American finding love with a royal. She and Prince Harry celebrated their two-year anniversary in May 2020.
While Prince Harry is only sixth in line to the throne, she’s still had to make a lot of sacrifices to marry into the British royal family, like her blog, her acting career, and one of her rescue dogs. However, now with the news of their step back, it remains to be seen what Markle and Harry do with their newfound freedom.
Markle is not only American and divorced, but also biracial. The royal family’s support and acceptance of their relationship has been seen by many as an indicator that the monarchy is open to change and evolving with the times – though, the same can’t be said for British tabloids.
In January 2020, the couple announced their intention to “step back” from the royal family. They are currently living in Los Angeles and have given up their royal titles.
German Prince Casimir Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn married American model Alana Camille Bunte in a German castle in June 2019.
The two were married in a German castle straight out of a fairytale.
- Read more:
- The 10 greatest scandals caused by queens throughout history
- 14 of the biggest royal weddings in history
- 11 royals who have lived in the US
- You can become a lady or a lord in Scotland for less than $US50 – here’s how
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