Royal Weddings: The wedding of American actress Meghan Markle to Britain’s Prince Harry is not the first time an American actress has married into royalty, and there have been other American women who were not actresses who also married a prince, or even a king.
Here are the Cinderlla stories:
The American actress married Prince Rainier, ruler of the Principality of Monaco, in 1956. Their son, Prince Albert, is the current ruler.
Already an Academy Award winner for her role in The Country Girl, the two met when she attended the Cannes Film Festival and invited to attend a VIP photo session at the Royal Palace.
In an uncanny similarity to Prince Harry’s mother, Princess Diana, Grace Kelly also died in an automobile accident that also critically injured her daughter, Princess Caroline. Princess Grade was driving, and apparently suffered a stroke at the wheel and lost control of the car.
Like Princess Diana, Princess Grace became world-renowned for her humanitarian efforts.
The American actress and dancer married the Aga Khan, a son of Sultan Mahommed Shah, Aga Khan III, leader of the Nizārī Ismā’
Known as Prince Aly Khan, he was her third husband. Hayworth also had been married to another Hollywood legend, Orson Welles.
Hayworth, who was born in Brooklyn, was one of the top Hollywood stars of the 1940s and top stars, appearing in a total of 61 films over 37 years, including two dancing with Fred Astaire.
The press coined the term “The Love Goddess” to describe Hayworth after she had become the most glamorous screen idol of her time, for her sultry beauty, which helped make her a favorite pin-up of G.I.s in World War II.
She died of Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 68. News of her illness drew international attention to Alzheimer’s disease, which was little known at the time, and helped tincrease federal funding for Alzheimer’s research, including through the Rita Hayworth Gala, a benefit for the Alzheimer’s Association, is held annually in New York City, Chicago and Palm Beach.
The fund-raiser was founded by Princess Yasmin Aga Khan, in honor of her mother, and participates as hostess. According to Wikipedia, more than $72 million has been raised through such events.
Although not actresses, other American women married into royalty, too. Quick history lesson:
She was the first American to marry into the British Royal Family, and the romance of the divorced socialite and King Edward VIII was an international scandal.
His desire to marry a woman with two living ex-husbands became a constitutional crisis that caused the man whose royal title was King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Empire and Emperor of India to abdicate the throne in 1936 to marry her.
The monarchy passed to his younger brother, who became King George Vi, father of Queen Elizabeth II, who is Prince Harry’s grandmother.
Edward and Wallis became the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. They lived out the rest of their lives as royal globetrotters, living primarily in Paris and New York City, and in the Caribbean when he was appointed Governor of the Bahamas.
They remained a devoted couple until his death in 1972. She died in 1986. Her funeral was held in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, the same chapel where Prince Harry is marrying Meghan Markle.
The Princeton-educated daughter of the former chairman of Pan American Airways married Jordan’s King Hussein in 1978 and became Queen Noor.
Since his death, she is the Dowager Queen. Her stepson, King Abdullah II is the current ruler.
Queen Noor’s international work focuses on environmental issues and the connection to human security with emphasis on water and Ocean health, including a Patron of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, Founding and Emeritus President of BirdLife International, Trustee Emeritus of Conservation International, and an Ocean Elder.
She is also chair of King Hussein Foundation International, a US non-profit 501(c)(3) which awards the King Hussein Leadership Prize.
Domestically, her efforts include supporting Islamic micro finance company, Ethmar, and programs supporting women.
On my last visit to Jordan, I bought a beautiful hand-embroidered jacket that had been made under Queen Noor’s program to promote handicrafts by women, helping them earn income independent of their mail relatives.
The San Francisco-born socialite married the Crown Prince of the former country if Sikkim, to become Gyalmo (
They met when was a freshman majoring in Asian Studies at Sarah Lawrence College and sharing an apartment in NYC with actress Jane Alexander,
She met the prince on a trip to India, where they literally bumped into one another in a hotel lobby. Their wedding was attended by fourteen Buddhist monks.
After the prince was ousted by India, which absorbed Sikkim, royal family moved to New York City. Since his death in 1982, Cooke and their now-grown children have led private lives in NYC without the trappings of their royal past.
- Photo of Prince Rainier and Princess Grace courtesy the Princess Grace Foundation.
- Photo Life Magazine cover courtesy Time-Life
- Photos of Rita Hayworth, Queen Noor and Hope Cooke courtesy Wikipedia