“Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at the Invictus Games in Toronto in September. They announced their engagement on Nov. 27. Karwai Tang/Getty Images
America’s founding figures may have eschewed a monarchy for a constitutional republic, but that hasn’t dampened citizens’ fascination with royal families. After all, who doesn’t love a real-life fairy tale? Here are five times in history — including very recent history — that Americans have become royalty.
American actress Meghan Markle was best known for her recurring role on the televised legal drama "Suits," before being enveloped in a rush of global attention after accepting a marriage proposal from Britain’s Prince Harry. On Nov. 27, 2017, the couple’s royal engagement was announced after a cozy proposal at Prince Harry’s home that included a ring with two small diamonds from the collection of his late mother, Princess Diana. The prince and Markle, a 33-year-old divorcée, plan to wed in May 2018 in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.
In 1936, the same year he rose to the crown, King Edward VIII became the only British royal to voluntarily abdicate the throne —and he did it to marry Wallis Simpson, a Baltimore socialite and divorcée. Although he’d spent most of the 1920s reportedly having affairs with several married women, when he met Wallis Simpson —an American businessman’s wife who then became divorced —he was smitten for good. So much so that when the Church of England would not agree to their marriage, he gave up the throne. The couple was married the following year, 1937, and became the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.
In 2013, the Swedish royal family welcomed a commoner into their midst when Christopher O’Neill, a New York City-based finance executive, and Princess Madeleine married. Although O’Neill kept to tradition by asking Princess Madeleine’s father for her hand in marriage, the path of tradition appeared to end there. Upon their nuptials, O’Neill declined to take a royal title. The move ensured he could continue working in the private sector and retain his American/British citizenship.
Actress Rita Hayworth gave up her movie career to marry Prince Aly Khan, son of Sultan Mahommed Shah Aga Khan III, the head of the Ismaili Muslims, in 1949. The couple had a daughter, Princess Yasmin Aga Khan, born in December of that year. Aly Khan was passed over for succession as Aga Khan, but served as Pakistan’s representative to the United Nations until his death in 1960. Though Hayworth broke her contract with Columbia Pictures to marry Khan and the couple divorced in 1953, the marriage nonetheless gave Hayworth the title of princess.
Lisa Halaby was born in Princeton, New Jersey, and went on to earn a graduate degree in urban planning. Her career led her to Tehran, where she took a job with the Royal Jordanian Airlines and rubbed elbows with the elite, including King Hussein of Jordan. After the death of the king’s wife, the two had a brief courtship and married in 1978. Halaby not only took on the title of queen, but a new name as well. She became Queen Noor, with Noor being the Arabic word for "light."
Now That’s Interesting
The British royal family is most often referred to by title and first name — Prince Harry, Queen Elizabeth — but their collective last name is actually Mountbatten-Windsor.