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Americans who married royal

The United States fought the Revolutionary War to break away from King George III and Great Britain in the 1700s. The country did not want a rule by monarchy. However, over the years, Americans (the official demonym for those from the United States) have married into different royal families across the world. Of course, two of the most famous are American actress Grace Kelly, who married Prince Rainier of Monaco, and Wallis Simpson, who married the former King Edward VIII (later Duke of Windsor). However, there are other less-known Americans who married royal.

In Paris on 30 October 1889, Alice Heine married Prince Albert I of Monaco. She was from New Orleans, Louisiana, and was the daughter of a Frenchman. She was raised Jewish but converted to Catholicism when Alice married her first husband. The American Civil War caused the family to move back to France, and she would meet Albert two decades later. They separated in 1902 but never officially divorced.

On 27 May 1949 in France, New Yorker Rita Hayworth married Prince Ali Salman Aga Khan. She was an actress and dancer who appeared in 61 movies during her three decades of acting. She was twice divorced before marrying Khan. Hayworth did not convert to Islam and wanted their daughter, Yasmin Aga Khan as a Christian. This led to a custody battle during their divorce proceedings. In January 1953, the divorce was granted, and Hayworth raised her daughter in the United States.

Rita with Prince Ali at their wedding. By Acme News Photos – Self scan from b+w glossy, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

In March 1959, Caroline Lee Bouvier Canfield (who went by Lee Radziwill), sister to US First Lady Jackie Kennedy, married Prince Stanislas Radziwill of Poland. She got an annulment from the Roman Catholic church from her first husband. The couple would have two children together, Anthony and Christina. However, this union was not to last, and they divorced in 1974.

The late King Hussein of Jordan married American Lisa Halaby in 1978. She, with Syrian Christian heritage, converted to Islam upon marriage and took the name, Noor. They had four children together: Prince Hamzah, Prince Hashim, Princess Iman and Princess Raiyah. The couple stayed married until the death of Hussein in 1999.

Queen Noor. By Skoll World Forum – https://www.flickr.com/photos/44608864@N08/5579322070, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Joan Dillon, born in New York City as the daughter of U.S. Treasury Secretary C. Douglas Dillon and his wife, Phyllis, married Prince Charles of Luxembourg (son of Grand Duchess Charlotte) on 1 March 1967 in the United Kingdom. She was the first commoner to marry into the Grand Ducal Family and was granted the title of HRH Princess Joan of Luxembourg. They had two children together: Princess Charlotte (b. 1967) and Prince Robert (b. 1968). Prince Charles, who died in 1977, was the brother of Grand Duke Jean, and the uncle of current Grand Duke Henri.

Kentuckian Julie Ongaro married Prince Robert of Luxembourg on 29 January 1994 in Boston. Robert is a first cousin to Grand Duke Henri. Prince Robert and the now Princess Julie have three children: Princess Charlotte, Prince Alexander and Prince Frederik.

Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece married Marie-Chantal Miller on 1 July 1995 in The United Kingdom. The Crown Prince and Crown Princess have five children: Princess Maria-Olympia, Prince Constantine-Alexios, Prince Achileas Andreas, Prince Odysseus-Kimon and Prince Aristidis-Stavros. However, she gave up her American citizenship in 2011. The family resides in New York.

Marie Chantal. Photo: Frankie Fouganthin [CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]

Marie-Chantal’s sister, Alexandra Miller, was also married to a royal – for a time. She married Prince Alexandre von Fürstenberg in 1995. They divorced in 2002. They have two children together: Princess Talita Natasha and Prince Tassilo Egon Maximilian.

On 5 July 2000, Sarah Butler, a Texan and former UN staff member, married Prince Zeid bin Ra’ad of Jordan. Together, they have three children: Prince Ra’ad, Princess Hala and Princess Azziza.

Kelly Rondestvedt, a Floridian, married Hereditary Prince Hubertus of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha in May 2009 in Germany. They have three children: Princess Madeleine, Princess Katharina and Prince Philipp.

Hope Cooke, born in California but spent much of her young life in New York, married the then Crown Prince of Sikkim, Palden Thondup Namgyal in 1963. He became Chogyal (or King) in 1965. Their marriage did not last, and they divorced after having two children in 1980. She now resides back in New York. 

By Alice S. Kandell – This image is available from the United States Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs divisionunder the digital ID ppmsca.30180/Public Domain

Before the Kingdom of Hawaii became a republic and later annexed by the United States, American John Owen Dominis (born in New York but raised in Hawaii) married the future Queen Liliuokalani of Hawaii on 16 September 1862. They did not have any children, and the monarchy was overthrown while Liliuokalani was on the throne in 1893.

Folke Bernadotte, the son of Prince Oscar Bernadotte, married New York-born, Estelle Romaine Manville on 1 December 1928 at St John’s Episcopal Church in Pleasantville, New York. Prince Gustaf Adolf (the father of current King Carl XVI Gustaf) served as best man, and then Prince Sigvard (who later lost his title for marrying a commoner) was the Marshal at a wedding with 1,500 people. It reportedly cost $1.5 million. Some family members of Folke have said that King Gustaf V introduced the pair. Folke and Estelle had four children: Count Gustaf, Count Folke, Count Fredrik and Count Bertil. It has been widely rumoured that Princess Estelle of Sweden (a future queen) was named after the New Yorker.

HRH Princess Madeleine / Mr Christopher O’Neill/ Princess Leonore / Prince Nicolas / Princess Adrienne in 2018. Photo: Lena Ahlström/Kungahuset.se

Princess Madeleine of Sweden married Christopher O’Neill on 8 June 2013 in Stockholm. Christopher holds dual American and British citizenship. He and Madeleine have two daughters, Princess Leonore and Princess Adrienne and a son, Prince Nicolas. They live in Miami where Chris is employed.

Of course, former actress Meghan Markle, now the Duchess of Sussex, was the latest to be added to this list. She was born in Los Angeles, California, to Thomas Markle and Doria Ragland on 4 August 1981 and is of mixed race. She starred on the popular television series Suits for years before marrying Prince Harry in 2018. The couple now resides in California with their one-year-old son, Archie. They stepped back from their lives as senior royals on 31 March 2020.

About author

Brittani is from Tennessee, USA. She is a political scientist and historian after graduating with a degree in the topics from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in December 2014. She also holds a master's degree from Northeastern University. She enjoys reading and researching all things regarding the royals of the world. Her love of royals began in middle school, and she's been researching, reading, and writing on royalty for over a decade. She became Europe Editor in October 2016, and then Deputy Editor in January 2019, and has been featured on several podcasts, radio shows, news broadcasts and websites.