Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have officially announced their engagement, and the American actress is now set to become HRH Princess Henry of Wales. But, the 36-year-old is not the first person outside of the old-world aristocracy to impress a royal. She is simply the latest “commoner” to leave America for a regal life abroad.
According to the New York Daily News, one of the most famous marriages in recent royal history is that of Harry’s great-great uncle, Edward VIII, who was king for a brief moment in the 1930s before he abdicated his throne to wed American socialite Wallis Simpson.
Simpson was twice-divorced, which caused a problem for Edward because of his additional role as the head of the Church of England. He decided to leave the crown behind, and instead became Duke of Windsor, while his brother – George VI – became King. George’s daughter, Elizabeth, ascended to the throne after he died, and she is still queen to this day.
After they married in 1937, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor visited Germany, leading many to believe the couple were Nazi sympathizers.
Another American actress to become a princess was Grace Kelly. When she was just 26-years-old, she married Prince Rainier III of Monaco in 1956 in what was called “the wedding of the century.” Kelly retired from her career on the silver screen, where she starred in films like High Noon, and became Princess Grace. She later died in 1982 in a car crash, that doctors said was the result of a stroke, causing her to veer her car off the road.
Americans have also become royalty outside of Europe, like Queen Noor – originally born Lisa Najeeb Halaby – who was 26 when she married King Hussein of Jordan in 1978. She was the fourth wife of the monarch, and she stood beside him as he ruled the country until his death in 1999. She was a graduate of Princeton University and was working as an architect for an air services company when she met King Hussein.
Over the years, Queen Noor has worked tirelessly for women’s rights in the Middle East and the Arab world.
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s Marriage Will Be A Shifting Point For The Monarchy
As the New York Times reports, Prince Harry’s engagement to Markle represents a recent shift in the conservative British monarchy. There was a time in royal history when marrying a divorced, bi-racial, American Catholic would have not gone over well. But, the new generation led by Harry and William project themselves as modern and down-to-earth, and they are attempting to connect better with the public.