11 American Women Who Became Princesses
With reports that Meghan Markle has already spent a romantic vacation away with Prince Harry, finally met Duchess Kate (and Princess Charlotte!), and will reportedly be by Harry's side at his best friend's wedding in Jamaica in March, Meghan and Harry's relationship is zooming along at warp speed.
If Meghan continues to play her cards right, she could soon become the newest American princess, following in very illustrious footsteps. While we might not have an official American royal family (the dynastic legacies of the Kennedys, Bushes, Clintons, and now Trumps notwithstanding), many beautiful, poised American girls have caught the eye of dashing foreign princes over the years.
We take a look back at American women who have married royalty and become princesses—and even, in some cases, queens.
Arguably the most famous film star in the world, Academy Award-winning actress Grace Kelly somehow became even more famous when she married His Serene Highness Rainier III, Prince of Monaco. Grace was in the south of France for the Cannes Film Festival screening of her film The Country Girl (which would eventually win her a Best Actress Oscar) and her PR team set up a photo shoot for Paris Match at the palace. Her first meeting with Prince Rainier was captured on film and the rest is history—the two were engaged by Christmas and married that April. Though the principality of Monaco is now a household name, at the time, it was a small, remote country and deemed unimportant enough that no representatives from any European royal houses attended the wedding. Grace lived in Monaco, never acting again, until her untimely death at the age of 52 in a car accident.
Born Elizabeth Halaby in Princeton, New Jersey, the future Queen Noor was the daughter of a woman of Swedish descent and a man of Syrian descent. (Lisa's father, Najeeb Halaby, was Administrator of the FAA and CEO of Pan-Am.) A graduate of Concord Academy and Princeton, she received a master's degree in Urban Planning, worked in Sydney and Tehran, and eventually took a job with Royal Jordanian Airlines where she met King Hussein of Jordan. After the death of his wife Queen Alia and a swift courtship, Halaby married King Hussein in 1978. She took Noor as her new first name, the Arabic word for "light." The impossibly glamorous couple had four children and were together until the King's death from lymphoma in 1999.
Jackie Kennedy's younger sister Lee Radziwill was born Caroline Lee Bouvier in Southampton, New York. Her second marriage—in 1959, just before JFK officially announced his candidacy for the Presidency—was to Polish prince Stanis?aw Albrecht Radziwill. Long considered the prettier, more vivacious sister—though Jackie was known as a fashion icon, Lee had a more inherent sense of style and eventually was named to the International Best Dressed List's Hall of Fame—Lee still lived much of her otherwise vibrant life in Jackie's shadow. (She had an affair with Aristotle Onassis before he became involved with Jackie and was reportedly furious when her sister married him.) Her marriage to Prince Radziwill lasted 15 years and produced two children, Anthony and Tina; now in her 80s, Lee divides her time between New York and Paris.
Hayworth was one of Hollywood's brightest stars when she met Italian-born Prince Aly Khan, son of the Aga Khan (the Imam of Ismaili Muslims and a direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad). The two married a year after meeting—despite the fact that Hayworth had just ended her relationship with Orson Welles—and their tempestuous union lasted fewer than four years and produced one daughter, philanthropist and Alzheimer's crusader Yasmin Aga Khan.
Younger sister to Marie-Chantal of Greece (as well as sister to Pia Getty), Alexandra Miller married Prince Alexandre von Fürstenberg in 1995. With her daughter Princess Talita as high-society's newest it-girl, her mother-in-law as Diane von Fürstenberg (she married Prince Alexander's father Prince Egon in 1969) and her brother-in-law as the future king of Greece, we'd bet those are some fabulous family reunions.
An American investment banker with an MBA from UCLA, Florida-born Kelly Jeanne Rondestvedt married Hereditary Prince Hubertus of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha in 2009 at a wedding attended by King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden and Princess Astrid of Belgium, becoming Her Highness Hereditary Princess Kelly of Saxe-Coburg und Gotha. While you might not have heard of the house of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, the royal houses of Europe have: its most famous members were Prince Albert and his first cousin (and wife) Queen Victoria, who ruled under the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. It wasn't until 1917, at the height of anti-German sentiment during World War I, that King George V decided to change the name of his house from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to the present name: Windsor.
With a degree in International Relations, an MSC in Development Studies, and an impressive resume that includes stints at the United Nations, Sarah Butler of Texas might not have seemed like the most likely candidate to marry a Middle Eastern prince. Nonetheless, she found her happily ever after in Prince Zeid bin Ra'ad Zeid al-Hussein—a member of the Jordanian House of Hashemite and Crown Prince of Iraq—becoming Her Royal Highness Princess Sarah Zeid in 2000. The couple has three children and live in New York, where Prince Zeid works as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and Princess Sarah raises awareness for causes including Every Newborn Action Plan, the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood, and the Women's Rights Division at Human Rights Watch.
After years spent modeling for Prada, Calvin Klein, Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent and Givenchy, Seattle-born Kendra Spears became Princess Salwa Aga Khan when she married Prince Rahim Aga Khan, eldest son of the current Aga Khan, in 2013 at Geneva's Château de Bellerive. The couple, who live in Switzerland, have two children, and Princess Salwa still works as a model under her maiden name: she has appeared on the cover of Vogue Espana, Elle France, and Vogue China and is the face of the Armani Code fragrance campaign.
While traveling through India in 1959, 20-year-old Sarah Lawrence College freshman Hope Cooke met Palden Thondup Namgyal, the Crown Prince of tiny Himalayan nation Sikkim, at the bar of Darjeeling's Windermere Hotel. When they married two years later, Hope renounced her American citizenship; two years after that she became a queen, styled as Her Highness Hope La, the Gyalmo of Sikkim. The marriage was tumultuous, plagued by political strife and infidelity. While the two didn't officially divorce until 1980, the marriage was reportedly already over by the time the monarch was abolished and Sikkim was annexed to India in 1975.
The American who would have been queen of England, twice-divorced Wallis Simpson famously so enchanted King Edward VIII of England that he abdicated the throne to marry her. (As head of the Church of England, the idea of Edward marrying a divorcée was anathema for religious, legal, and—at the time—moral reasons.) While she never held the title of HRH, after marrying Edward she became the Duchess of Windsor and the two went into merry, glittering exile in places like the Bahamas, Florida, New York, and Paris. Though her relationship with the British royal family remained fractured, when Wallis died in 1986 the funeral was attended by Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles, and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. Her final blessing was performed by the archbishop of Canterbury—a firm sign of royal respect—and she was buried next to Edward at Frogmore in Windsor.
This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.