Now that the dust has settled a bit with the news that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are to marry in May 2018, we take a look back at how some other royal engagements have been announced over the years.
In September 1999, the Belgian Royal Palace announced that then-Prince Philippe was engaged to fellow Belgian speech therapist Mathilde d’Udekem d’Acoz. It came as a surprise to many, as news of their relationship had stayed out of the press. They had been together since 1996 and had managed to stay under the radar.
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The newly engaged couple appeared alongside their families at the Castle Laeken for a photo call; they also gave a brief interview at that time. Philippe proposed with a ring featuring a large oval Burmese ruby set in gold that was made by Wolfer’s jewellers in Brussels. They went on to wed in a civil and religious ceremony in Brussels on 4 December 1999. The current King and Queen of the Belgian have four children: Princess Elisabeth, Duchess of Brabant, Prince Gabriel, Prince Emmanuel and Princess Elèonore.
It was on 3 October 2007 that the Royal Danish House announced that Prince Joachim was engaged to the French-born Marie Cavallier in a press release saying in part, “Her Majesty the Queen of Denmark and His Royal Highness the Prince Consort have the pleasure to announce the engagement of their son, His Royal Highness Prince Joachim to Miss Marie Cavallier.”
The couple appeared before the press later in the day and had a short press conference in English. It was then that Marie revealed her engagement ring – designed to look like the French flag with a diamond centring ruby and sapphire jewels on each side. She had only received the ring the day before as to ensure the press did not spot it, although they had become engaged over the summer in Turkey. They wed on 24 May 2008 and have two children together: Prince Henrik and Princess Athena. Marie is also the stepmother to Joachim’s two older children, Princes Nikolai and Felix, by his first wife, Alexandra.
The engagement of Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume to Belgian Countess Stéphanie de Lannoy on Thursday, 26 April 2012. They met the press at Chateau de Berg on Friday afternoon alongside their parents and Grand Duke Jean. Afterwards, the media went to the terrace where Prince Louis, Princess Tessy and Prince Félix joined the family. Guillaume and Stéphanie had been together for close to two years.
They married on 19 October 2012 in a civil ceremony. They married in a religious ceremony the next day at Notre-Dame Cathedral. They have yet to have any children.
On the 5 January 1956, it was announced that Prince Rainier was to wed American actress Grace Kelly. He had proposed to her at her family’s Philadelphia home on Christmas, and the engagement announcement was held at the Kelly family home with a scheduled press conference. Her family had to pay a $2 million dowry before she could marry Prince Rainer. Her father, John was not happy with this, but eventually relented after Grace persuaded him to pay it. There have been reports that Grace paid half of the dowry herself.
The wedding would be dubbed “the wedding of the century” with the date set for 19 April at St Nicholas Cathedral. The civil ceremony was on 18 April. They would go on to have three children together: Princess Caroline, Prince Albert and Princess Stéphanie. Rainier and Grace remained married until Grace’s death from injuries sustained in a car crash on 14 September 1982.
The engagement of then-Prince Willem-Alexander to Argentine-born Máxima Zorreguieta was announced on 30 March 2001 in a live television and radio broadcast by Queen Beatrix who said, in part, “It is for my husband and I a great joy to announce the engagement of our son Willem-Alexander to Máxima Zorreguieta.” She took time to praise her soon-to-be daughter-in-law, who impressed the Dutch people by her knowledge of the Dutch language in a meeting with the press.
The announcement stirred a bit of controversy as Máxima’s father had been Minister of Agriculture of Argentina during the brutal dictatorship of General Jorge Videla. His tenure included the beginning of a period dubbed the “Dirty War”, where between 10,000 to 30,000 people were killed or disappeared during this regime. There was an investigation by Michiel Baud, a Dutch professor in Latin American studies, at the request of the States General into Jorge’s involvement. Jorge claimed that he was a civilian, and therefore had no idea of the atrocities that had occurred while he was a cabinet minister.
Baud concluded that Jorge Zorreguieta had no direct involvement with the “Dirty War” but had to have known about it, considering his position. Many in the Netherlands were concerned about the participation of Máxima’s father, but they did not believe she should be held accountable since she was just a child at the time.
Willem-Alexander presented his fiancé with a beautiful light orange diamond ring, to represent the national colour of the Netherlands. They married in civil and religious ceremonies on 2 February 2002. The current King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima have three daughters: Princess Catharina-Amalia (just called Amalia), Princess Alexia and Princess Ariane.
The then-Crown Prince Harald met Sonja Haraldsen in 1959 and dated quietly for nine years before they were permitted to marry. Their relationship stayed a secret for almost a decade due to Sonja’s commoner status. Then Crown Prince Harald told his father that he would never marry unless he gave permission to wed Sonja, which would have ended the family’s reign on the Norwegian throne after Harald’s death. After the engagement announcement, there was not much resistance by the Norwegian people of having a commoner queen.
On 19 March 1968, the Royal Court of Norway announced that King Olav had given the pair permission to marry. King Olav made the announcement saying, “It is with pleasure that I inform you, Mr President and Members of the Storting, that I, after seeking advice from the Prime Minister, members of the Government, you, Mr President, and the parliamentary leaders of the political parties, have today given my consent to my dear son, Crown Prince Harald, to take as his wife Miss Sonja Haraldsen, daughter of the late Mr Karl August Haraldsen and Mrs Dagny Haraldsen née Ulrichsen.”
They wed on 29 August 1968 at Oslo Cathedral. They have two children together, Crown Prince Haakon and Princess Märtha Louise. They also have six grandchildren: Marius Borg Høiby, Princess Ingrid Alexandra, Prince Sverre Magnus, Maud Angelica Behn, Leah Isadora Behn and Emma Tallulah Behn.
Spain:On 1 November 2003, Casa Real announced that the heir to the throne, Felipe, Prince of Asturias was to marry Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano. At the time, the announcement came as a surprise to most as not many knew of the relationship. The then Prince Felipe presented Letizia with a white gold 16-baguette diamond ring during his proposal. She also gave Felipe a classic book and white and gold cufflinks.
Felipe and Letizia married on a rainy 22 May 2004 in Madrid at the Cathedral Santa María la Real de la Almudena – less than two months after the Madrid terror attacks and a week after Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark wed Mary Donaldson. They are now King Felipe and Queen Letizia and have two daughters: Leonor, Princess of Asturias and Infanta Sofía.
It was announced by the Royal Court of Sweden that Crown Princess Victoria was to marry her former personal trainer, Daniel Westling on 24 February 2009. It had been an uphill battle for Victoria to marry her love, but in the end, love won out, and the King gave his blessing. The Court’s press release said, in part, “After His Majesty The King of Sweden had given his consent to the marriage between the Crown Princess and Mr. Westling, His Majesty, in accordance with the procedures set out in the Swedish Constitution, requested the agreement by the Swedish Government, which was subsequently communicated to His Majesty in connection with an information council held at the Royal Palace today.”
The couple met the press that afternoon in Princess Sibylla’s Apartment at the Royal Palace in Stockholm for a photo opportunity alongside King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia. They also had the chance to ask a few questions. The couple wed on the 34th anniversary of the King and Queen’s marriage on 19 June 2010 at Stockholm Cathedral. They now have two children: Princess Estelle and Prince Oscar.
As Her Majesty The Queen and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary this year, we would be remiss if we did not look back at their engagement announcement which took place on 10 July 1947 with a statement from King George VI and Queen Elizabeth that said, “It is with the greatest pleasure that the King and Queen announce the betrothal of their dearly beloved daughter, the Princess Elizabeth, to Lt. Philip Mountbatten, R..W, son of the late Prince Andrew and Princess Andrew (Princess Alice of Battenburg,) to which union the King has gladly given his consent.”
The pair had become engaged in secret in 1946 when Philip asked the King for permission to marry then-Princess Elizabeth. King George VI gave his permission but requested that the announcement not be made until Elizabeth had celebrated her 21st birthday in April 1947. The couple wed in Westminster Abbey on 20 November 1947. They had four children together: Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward. They now have eight grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Their sixth great-grandchild is due in April 2018 when the Duchess of Cambridge gives birth to her and the Duke of Cambridge’s third child.