For most people, the idea of falling in love with a member of a royal family and suddenly being ushered into a world of wealth and privilege is little more than the stuff of fairy tales. However, countless men and women around the world have had that very thing happen to them.
These regular people who married into royal families have the unique experience of living that seemingly impossible dream, becoming beloved icons on a global stage practically overnight. And if you’re looking for your own storybook romance, check out The 10 Most Eligible Royals Right Now.
Long before she became the People’s Princess, Diana Spencer worked as an early education assistant teacher. However, while she wasn’t a princess by birth, Diana already had royal connections before her marriage to Prince Charles: her father, John Spencer, also known as 8th Earl Spencer, was a prominent member of the British nobility. And for more royal news, here are 15 Ways the Young Royals Are Changing the British Monarchy.
When she first met Prince William in 2001, the now-Duchess of Cambridge was just Catherine Middleton, another St. Andrews student. And while Kate doesn’t come from noble stock like Lady Di, her family can hardly count itself among the members of the working class; Kate’s parents, Michael and Carole, are the founders of a party supply company that’s rumored to be worth tens of millions. And for more reasons to love Kate Middleton, discover the 36 Reasons to Celebrate Kate Middleton on Her 36th Birthday!
The original Fergie, AKA Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, was your typical 20-something, dabbling in everything from publishing to PR, before she tied the knot with Prince Andrew in 1986. Although she and Prince Andrew divorced a decade later, the Duchess has remained in the spotlight, thanks to her philanthropic efforts and endorsement deals. And for more on Fergie, check out the 7 Most Embarrassing Gaffes She’s Committed.
Prior to marrying Victoria, Crown Princess of Sweden, Daniel Westling owned a chain of gyms, and was working as a personal trainer. It was through his job as a trainer that he met his future wife, with whom he tied the knot in 2010.
Màxima Zorreguieta Cerruti
Now known as Queen Màxima of the Netherlands, Argentine-born Maxima Zorreguieta Cerruti had a successful, continent-crossing career in financial services. She was introduced to King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands in her late 20s, and the couple married in 2002. And for some amazing relationship advice, read up on How 50 Famous Men Wooed the Women of Their Dreams.
While her older sister, Jackie Kennedy Onassis, married American royalty, Lee Radziwill found her own prince overseas. In 1959, she married Prince Stanislaw Albrecht Radziwill, with whom she had two children prior to the couple’s divorce in 1974.
Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano
Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano, better known as Queen Letizia of Spain, was a prominent journalist before she wed then-prince Felipe. Her title has since been upgrade from Princess to Queen since her husband became King in 2014. And for more royals news, Here’s Why Meghan Markle—Worth $5 Million—Won’t See Any Royal Income.
German-born Silvia Sommerlath, now known as Queen Silvia, earned her royal title when she married Crown Prince Carl Gustaf of Sweden at age 32. While there was initially some trepidation about the King’s marriage to a commoner, she has become an icon in her adopted country, thanks to her philanthropic efforts.
Mary Elizabeth Donaldson
Mary Elizabeth Donaldson may have married a foreign royal, but she didn’t have to go far from home to find him. After a brief stint in the United States, Donaldson returned to her native Australia, where she met Frederik, Crown Prince of Denmark, in 2000. The two tied the knot in 2004, earning her the title of Crown Princess. And if you’re hoping to land your own dream girl, start with the 20 Compliments Women Can’t Resist!
Before she was known as Queen Noor of Jordan, American-born Lisa Halaby had a promising career in the aviation field. She earned her title when she married King Hussein of Jordan in 1978, staying with him until his death in 1999.
Empress Michiko of Japan met her husband, Emperor Akihito, while playing tennis. The pair married in 1959, when Akihito was still Crown Prince, a title he held until ascending to the role of Emperor in 1990.
America isn’t the only country to give a reality star a prominent government title. Princess Sofia, Duchess of Värmland, was a contestant on a show called Paradise Hotel before marrying Sweden’s Prince Carl in 2015.
British socialite Marie-Chantal Miller—better known as Crown Princess of Greece—was just another NYU student before she wed Pavlos, Crown Prince of Greece, in 1995.
Alexandra von Fürstenberg
It seems that the Miller family has a thing for marrying royals. Marie-Chantal’s younger sister, Alexandra, married Prince Alexander von Fürstenberg, son of designer Diane von Fürstenberg, in 1995.
Royal blood seems to be prevalent in both von Fürstenberg’s personal and professional lives. In fact, Tatiana Blatnik, a former event planner for Diane von Fürstenberg, wed Prince Nikolaos of Greece and Denmark in 2010.
British-born banker Christopher O’Neill found himself joining the Swedish royal family when he married Princess Madeleine of Sweden in 2013. However, O’Neill’s career in finance has meant that the family has lived primarily in New York and London, spending just a short stint in his wife’s native country.
After keeping their romance quiet for nearly a decade, Sonja Haraldsen married Crown Prince Harald of Norway in 1968. It was through her marriage that she earned the title of Crown Princess—not bad for a woman who was initially shunned by his family due to her low status.
Charlene Wittstock was already wildly accomplished before she became Princess of Monaco in 2011. The statuesque blonde had earned three Olympic gold medals for swimming before meeting her husband-to-be, Prince Albert II of Monaco.
While her career as an actress means Meghan Markle isn’t a commoner by the traditional definition of the word, the American-born duchess-to-be certainly saw her celebrity rise when she got engaged to Prince Harry in 2017. Wondering what made Meghan Markle fall for Britain’s ginger prince? The 10 Princely Ways That Harry Won Meghan will have you weak in the knees.
Queen Rania of Jordan
Before she was known as Queen Rania of Jordan, Kuwait native Rania Al-Yassin had a successful career in marketing. Rania worked for companies including Citibank and Apple before earning her royal title in 1993. While her royal marriage is what she’s most famous for, her fashion sense and prolific Twitter use are now nearly as notable. Want to find out how to snag your own queen? Here’s How 50 Famous Men Wooed the Women of Their Dreams!
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