Seven Americans Who Married Royalty

  • Grace Kelly Kate Middleton isn’t the only commoner who married a prince. These seven American women married royally as well.

    The most beautiful, ethereal woman in the United States and possibly the world, Grace Kelly was a princess long before she met Rainier III, Prince of Monaco. But her marriage to him in 1956 made it official. The ceremony, which took place in the tiny, baroque principality of Monaco, was called “the wedding of the century.” Kelly, an Academy Award-winning actress, left her Hollywood career and bore Rainier three children: Caroline, Albert, and Stephanie. (Albert now rules Monaco.) Her tragic death in a car accident in 1982 broke her husband’s heart. He never remarried.
  • Lisa Najeeb Halaby Halaby’s years as Noor al-Hussein, Queen of Jordan, show just how hard it is to navigate the political and social differences between the United States and a Middle Eastern country. A Princeton graduate with a degree in architecture and urban planning, she took a job with her father, Najeeb Halaby, who had been asked by Jordan to redesign its airline. Through that post, Halaby met Jordan’s King Hussein and married him in 1978. But gaining acceptance in her new country was difficult. Although Halaby renounced her American citizenship and took Islam as her religion when she got married, many people, including fundamentalists, still saw her as too Westernized and didn’t think she was a true Muslim (her father, despite his Syrian background, was Christian). Since Hussein’s death in 1999, Queen Noor, 59, has stayed in the political picture with the title of Queen Dowager. She also travels globally in support of human-rights organizations.
  • Hope Cooke Like Lisa Halaby and the King of Jordan, Hope Cooke and her future husband met by chance. Paldan Thondup Namgyal, Crown Prince of Sikkim, first talked with the widely traveled Cooke in the bar of a hotel in Darjeeling, India. At the time, Sikkim was the smallest country in Asia. In 1963, four years after they met, Cooke and the crown prince married in a Buddhist ceremony. As a result of the marriage, Cooke was dropped from the Social Register. Cooke found no difficulty in transitioning to her adopted country, an accepting place that has a number of peacefully coexisting religions. She and her husband, who became monarch nine months after their marriage, genuinely loved each other. But political difficulties may have contributed to their breakup. In 1975, the monarch was deposed and was put under house arrest for a time. Cooke took the couple’s two children and returned to New York City soon afterward. Eventually, Sikkim became a state of India. Cooke’s former husband died in 1982, and nowadays the last Queen of Sikkim, 70, gives historical tours of New York.
  • Alexandra Natasha Miller Royal marriages run in the Miller family. Alexandra, 38, second from left in the above photo, married Prince Alexander von Furstenberg in 1995. It was just four months after her elder sister, Marie-Chantal, walked down the aisle with Prince Pavlos of Greece. Unlike Marie-Chantal’s marriage, though, Alexandra’s didn’t last. She and the prince, the son of dress designer Diane von Furstenberg and Prince Egon von Furstenberg, had two childred but separated in 2002 and were later divorced. Today, von Furstenberg’s former wife works for Diane von Furstenberg’s company as an “image director.” She’s also designed a line of acrylic furniture, with sofas costing up to $21,000.
  • Marie Chantal Miller Miller, 42, certainly didn’t marry for money. Her father, Duty-Free Shops founder Robert Warren Miller, is a billionaire. And Miller, as well as her two sisters, had all the social life they could ask for in New York, London and Switzerland. But it was in New Orleans that Miller met her future husband, Prince Pavlos of Greece, a member of the Greek royal family in exile. Pavlos is the oldest son of the Greek King Constantine, who has been living in London since the monarchy was overthrown in 1973. Marie-Chantal’s wedding in 1995 was one of the most extravagant ever seen. Both Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip attended. Since then, Miller and her prince have had five children. And Miller herself, who is titled Crown Princess of Greece, works hard as an author of children’s books and the designer of a children’s luxury clothing line.
  • Wallis Warfield Simpson If Grace Kelly was the blonde angel, Wallis Warfield Simpson was the dark presence who threatened the stability of the British monarchy. The royal family was angered by Simpson’s involvement with Edward, Prince of Wales. His affair with the twice-married American was problematic because Edward was next in line for the throne and its accompanying title of Supreme Governor of the Church of England. As the lover and possible husband of a woman who was still married (though getting divorced), he was in direct conflict with the church. After briefly ascending the throne in 1936, Edward resigned to be with “the woman I love.” He was succeeded by his brother, who named Edward and Wallis the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. After that, the couple went into a lifelong exile and never returned to live in England.
  • Rita Hayworth The sultry Hayworth was a well-established actress (Gilda, The Lady From Shanghai) by the time she met Prince Aly Khan, the Westernized playboy son of a prominent Muslim leader. The couple married in 1949, and Hayworth began the marriage with a flourish: Her entire trousseau was made up of Dior clothes, known as the New Look, that had caused controversy because of its longer hemline. But this was the third marriage for Hayworth, who didn’t take long to get testy about her husband’s rumored infidelities (he was seen dancing with actress Joan Fontaine in Reno.) By 1953, they were done, and Hayworth refused to let their child, Princess Yasmin Aga Khan, be raised as a Muslim. “While I respect the Muslim faith and all other faiths,” Hayworth said, “it is my earnest wish that my daughter be raised as a normal, healthy American girl in the Christian faith.” She won.