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We’re all familiar with Meghan Markle and Grace Kelly, but American women have been joining royal families all over the world for centuries. Here’s a look at thirteen American women who married into royalty.
America was still in its infancy when Napoleon Bonaparte’s rebellious little brother, Jerome, showed up unannounced in Baltimore. On Christmas Eve in 1803, he married Elizabeth Patterson, the daughter of a successful merchant. She was already pregnant by the time they headed back to Europe to face his brother, who demanded that the marriage be annulled. When the Pope wouldn’t grant an annulment, Napoleon declared one himself. Elizabeth gave birth to a son, Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte, while her erstwhile husband married a German princess and briefly reigned as King of Westphalia.
Born in New Orleans, Alice Heine was part of a prominent French banking family that helped finance Napoleon III’s military exploits. Alice converted from Judaism to Catholicism when she married the Duke of Richelieu in 1875, but he died young. She later became the mistress of Prince Albert I of Monaco. The couple married in 1889, making Alice a princess. Their relationship was tumultuous; when her affair with a composer was discovered, Albert slapped her in front of an audience at the opera. The couple separated but never divorced, and Alice lived out the rest of her life in Paris.
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Anita Stewart was born in New Jersey to a prominent attorney with significant social connections in Gilded Age New York. Her parents’ divorce, however, diminished her social standing. She moved to Europe with her mother, where she met Miguel de Braganza, the son of a claimant to the Portuguese throne. The couple married in Scotland in 1909, but even her dowry couldn’t keep them out of financial trouble. They had three children and remained married until Miguel’s death in 1920.
Born in Zanesville, Ohio, Nancy Leeds inherited a fortune after the death of her second husband in 1908. She lived in Europe as a wealthy widow, catching the eye of Prince Christopher of Greece and Denmark, part of the exiled and penniless Greek royal family. They married in 1920 in Switzerland, and she took on a new name: Princess Anastasia. The marriage wasn’t to last, however — she died of cancer only three years after their wedding. He married a French princess six years after her death.
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Wallis Warfield Simpson is perhaps the most notorious American to marry a king. Born in Pennsylvania, she was still married to her second husband when she began an affair with the Prince of Wales. When he became King Edward VIII, their relationship was one of the factors that led to his eventual abdication. The new Duke of Windsor married his American bride in France in 1937, and after a stint in the Bahamas during the war, the couple lived out the rest of their lives in Paris.
The American actress Rita Hayworth (born Margarita Carmen Cansino) was fresh off her divorce from Orson Welles when she met Prince Aly Khan, son of the Aga Khan. They married in 1949, and she left her film career behind. After the birth of their daughter, though, the couple divorced, with Hayworth citing “extreme mental cruelty.”
Oscar-winning actress Grace Kelly met Prince Rainier III of Monaco for the first time in May 1955, and less than a year later, the couple married in Monaco’s cathedral. Princess Grace gave birth to three children, including the present Prince of Monaco. She longed to restart her acting career, but just as she began to take steps to work again, she died of a stroke while driving.
Born in Washington, D.C., Lisa Halaby met King Hussein of Jordan while working with Alia Airlines in their facility design department. The friendship turned to romance, and the couple married in 1978. She converted to Islam, becoming Queen Noor of Jordan. The couple had four children together before King Hussein’s death from cancer in 1999.
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Born in London, Marie-Chantal Miller is the daughter of an American businessman. She was raised all over the globe, but she was studying at New York University when she became engaged to Crown Prince Pavlos, the eldest son of the last King and Queen of Greece. The couple married in 1995, and they have five children together. She now runs a successful children’s clothing line.
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Houston-born Sarah Butler was educated in her father’s native Britain. While working at the United Nations, she met and married Prince Zeid bin Ra’ad Zeid al Hussein, a cousin of the King of Jordan. Prince Zeid served as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights from 2014 until 2018, and Princess Sarah has continued extensive work as a global health advocate, especially for women and children.
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Kelly Rondestvedt, a Pensacola-born investment banker, met Hereditary Prince Hubertus of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha in New York while working for Morgan Stanley in 2007. The couple married two years later. They have three children, and they often attend royal events hosted by their Swedish royal cousins.
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Born in Seattle, Kendra Spears was a successful model before her 2013 marriage to Prince Rahim Aga Khan, the eldest son of the current Aga Khan. After her marriage, she became known as Princess Salwa. The couple have two sons.
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Meghan Markle was already well-known to television fans for her role on Suits when she met Prince Harry in the summer of 2016. By the following November, the couple were engaged. She became the Duchess of Sussex when they married in Windsor in May 2018, and almost exactly a year later, they welcomed their first child, Archie Mountbatten-Windsor.
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