Get ready to clutch your pearls, everybody! A prince of England is about to marry a commoner! The news of Prince Harry’s marriage proposal over a roasted chicken (true story) to American actress Meghan Markle broke this week and the world went wild. Surprise, surprise: she said yes! Markle, who played Agent Jessup on Fringe and Rachel Zane on Suits, is slated to take her place alongside William, Charles, and Queen Elizabeth as a member of the Royal Family in May 2018.
Harry’s choice of a woman who isn’t part of the rarefied breed of kings, dukes, and earls has raised some eyebrows. After all, these high and mighty types are big on tradition! To go outside of the blue-blood crowd for a spouse does ruffle some fancy folks’ feathers. His big brother William did the same thing when he wed commoner Kate Middleton in 2011, and his late mother Diana was from a noble, not royal family. But to wed an American celebrity is another thing entirely, right?
As it turns out, this is hardly the first time a famous person from the world outside of kingly courts has joined in union with regal rabble.
Here are 15 Stars You Didn’t Know Married Royalty.
15. Olivia Wilde
Besides her run on the medical and teen dramas House and The OC, Olivia Wilde has starred in many a geeky production, including Tron: Legacy, Cowboys and Aliens, and The Lazarus Effect. When she wasn’t taking on cosmic foes and experimenting with the forces of life and death, Wilde also happened to marry an Italian prince.
Former hubby Tao Ruspoli is a photographer, musician, filmmaker and – the son of Prince Alessandro Ruspoli, 9th Prince of Cerveter, a member of old school Italian royalty. However, the pair divorced in 2011, and now Wilde has returned to her commoner, suffering through life merely as a huge Hollywood actress engaged to another huge actor, Jason Sudeikis. How far the poor lass has fallen…
14. Jamie Lee Curtis
Any true film geek already knows that Jamie Lee Curtis isn’t just the original Scream Queen – the title she earned with such films as Halloween – she’s also Hollywood royalty, being the child of classic actors Janet Leigh and Tony Curtis.
The geekier among us also know that Jamie Lee is married to Christopher Guest, none other than Nigel Tufnel of Spinal Tap fame. And as it happens, just like his heavy metal mockumentary counterpart, Guest is in fact a member of British Royalty. His exact title is 5th Baron Helden-Guest, in Great Saling, County of Essex. Whatever that means. But he’s officially in the crown-wearer’s club, which means that Ms. Curtis graduated from a movie princess to a real life princess… sort of.
13. Jessica Chastain
Two-time Academy Award nominee Jessica Chastain isn’t just a sought-after Hollywood actress for her roles in Zero Dark Thirty and The Help – she’s also married into a royal family.
In June of 2017, after 5 years of courtship, Chastain married Gian Luca Passi de Preposulo, an executive for the exclusive fashion brand Moncler. And believe it or not, he also comes from a long line of Italian nobility which stretches all the way back to the 10th century. He also owns an ancient estate and villa that makes their own brand of prosecco. This makes this matrimony a truly bubbly affair in more ways than one.
This marriage is a recent one, but her attachment to royalty doesn’t seem to have affected her career so far – Chastain is generating even more Oscar buzz with her leading role in Aaron Sorkin’s Molly’s Game.
12. Laura Harring
This former Miss USA earned her own title when she was crowned in 1985, the first Hispanic woman to be granted the honor. Laura Harring went from that win to an acting career which included appearance in geek favorites such as David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive and the 2004 version of The Punisher.
In the middle of all that, Ms. Harring spent two years married to Count Carl-Eduard von Bismarck-Schönhausen, great-great-grandson of Otto von Bismarck. The Bismarcks are serious German royalty, and Otto spent 20 years as the Chancellor of the German Empire back in the late 1800s. The couple divorced in 1989, and Lauren never married again. Despite the couple’s separation, Harring kept her title as Countess von Bismarck-Schönhausen. Seems like a pretty good deal to us!
11. Grace Kelly
As America’s original princess, Grace Kelly’s aura of decency and sheer magnetism commanded the imagination of a generation of moviegoers. The Oscar-winning actress starred in classics like To Catch a Thief and Rear Window, and was truly seen as a sort of celebrity royalty. She even won an Oscar for her The Count Girl at the young age of 25. But then, just a year later, Ms. Kelly married Rainier III, the Prince of Monaco, thus becoming Princess Grace – and retiring from acting at the height of her career.
For US fans, Kelly’s wedding and coronation was the stuff of fairy tales. Sadly, Kelly’s life had a not-so-happy ending when she died crashing her sports car, winding around the coastal Riviera roads of her kingdom.
10. AJ Langer
Talk about going from a cautionary tale on My So-Called Life to a life of luxury and leisure! AJ Langer, the former sitcom actress also known for her stints on Private Practice and her role in the horror classic The People Under the Stairs, has her own Cinderella story to tell.
The former commoner from Columbus, OH was wed in 2004 to Charles Courtenay, Lord Courtenay, the son of Hugh Courtenay, 18th Earl of Devon. Yes, that Earl of Devon. You know, of Powderham Castle? Never heard of it? Just trust us, it’s legit British royalty since at least 1340 and Langer is now part of it.
9. Rita Hayworth
A classic leading lady of stage and screen, Rita Hayworth was one of the most unforgettable actresses of her time. She starred in the film noir classic Gilda and danced her way through two films with Fred Astaire. And, believe it or not, she wasn’t just a princess, she was an Persian princess.
Hayworth’s third husband was Prince Aly Khan, a son of Sultan Mahommed Shah, Aga Khan III, the leader of the Ismaili sect of Shia Islam. As a member of the Qajar dynasty of Persia, which traced its roots to the late 18th century, he was solidly of royal blood. When Hayworth married the prince, they had a child together – Princess Yasmin.
8. Kendra Spears
So, here’s fun trivia question you can ask at the next hipster party you attend: what do classic movie star Rita Hayworth and Ford supermodel Kendra Spears have in common? Why, they were both married into the Qajar dynasty’s Ismaili sect of Shia Islam, of course!
Yes, that family made royalty out of not one but two American celebrities. Turns out that everybody’s favorite Vogue cover girl is now officially known as Princess Salwa Aga Khan. The new name doesn’t exactly roll of the tongue as easily as “Kendra Spears,” but then she’s got a totally new gig these days as mom to the couple’s two children and the duties of the regent (whatever those are).
7. Casper Van Dien
Let’s just face it, and we say this with all respect and gratitude: Casper Van Dien was born to do one thing and one thing lonely: to star as Johnny Rico in the sci-fi nerd cult classic Starship Troopers. We cannot thank you enough, Mr. Van Dien, for that performance. That movie will always be awesome. And for that alone, you deserve to be elevated into royalty!
Van Dien is currently married to his second wife, Catherine Oxengberg. Catherine’s mother is none other than Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia, a member of the Karađorđević dynasty which goes back over 200 years. But it kind of ended in 1945 when the League of Communists of Yugoslavia took over that nation. Still, those titles and some ancestral lands remain in the family. Van Dien went from fighting space bugs with blue blood to bugging blue bloods with his wife.
6. Zsa Zsa Gabor
For children of the ’60’s and ’70s, nothing quite said “Old World class” quite like the uber-glamorous Zsa Zsa Gabor. Starting her acting career in her native Hungary, Gabor became as much a professional socialite as she did a movie star. In fact, she’s more well-known as the star of the campy sitcom Green Acres and as a fixture in the celebrity game show guest circuit than she was for leading roles in big time movies.
Gabor was also known for getting married – a lot. This lady got married nine times! Her final marriage was to Frédéric Prinz von Anhalt, who was a member of deposed German royalty – by adoption. At age 36! And it might have been part of a larger nobility-selling scheme. But hey, it still counts.
5. Emma McQuiston
A lot is being made of Meghan Markle’s African-American heritage, but she’s not the first woman with African roots to marry into British Aristocracy. That milestone may indeed be claimed by Emma McQuiston, the TV celebrity chef, model, and food blogger whose father happened to be a Nigerian oil tycoon.
Her husband is Ceawlin Thynn, Viscount Weymouth, who is heir to the Longleat estate and the son of Alexander Thynn, the seventh Marquess of Bath. Man, those English with their titles! Anyway, Mcquiston is now the Vicountess of Weymouth by our reckoning, and that’s legit royalty.
What’s more, McQuiston will make history when, upon her father-in-law’s passing, she becomes the first ever Black marchioness. Apparently the current Marchioness – her mother-in-law – isn’t too happy about this; her husband banned his own mother from their wedding after she made disparaging comments about McQuiston’s race.
4. Diane von Fürstenberg
If you’re a lover of the famous fashion staple known as the wrap-dress, you have Diane von Fürstenberg to thank for it. The legendary Belgian-American designer is a true luxury brand unto herself. But beyond being a clothing icon, the woman who was born as Diane Haflin also spent some time as true royalty.
In 1969, von Fürstenberg married Prince Egon von Fürstenberg, a banker and socialite who was the son of Prince Tassilo zu Fürstenberg, whose German ancestry is the stuff of Teutonic aristocracy going back generations.
3. Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano
While this name may not be as well-known to Americans as most of the others on this list, Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano’s story is very much in the mold of many of her fellow women who went from commoner to royal.
Born to a middle class family in Spain, Rocasolano got a respectable career going as a journalist and TV anchor working for Bloomberg, CNN, and regional news outlets. Eventually, though, Rocasolano married King Felipe VI, son of Juan Carlos I, the last in the long line of Spanish kings. And before Felipe was even crowned king in 2014, Letizia was officially Princess of Austurias by her marriage.
2. Meghan Markle
Even though Prince Harry hasn’t officially tied the knot yet, let’s take a deeper look into this totally unlikely Cinderella story that seemed to come out of the blue.
Meghan Markle came from a Hollywood dad (he’s an Emmy Award-winning lighting director) and carved out her acting career starting with a 2002 appearance on the soap opera General Hospital. After several TV & movie appearances, plus a long relationship with producer Trevor Engleson which ended in 2011, a mutual friend literally set her up on a blind date with Prince Harry in 2016.
1. Kit Harrington
Forget winter – wedding bells are coming! We’re going to cheat a little just one more time because of Game of Thrones. The true royal wedding geeks are really looking forward to is when Jon Snow finally marries Ygritte “You Know Nothing Jon Snow” the Wildling.
Yes – Kit Harrington is betrothed to none other than his on-screen true love, Rose Leslie. And as it happens, Rose happens to be 100% Scottish royalty. Officially, Ms. Leslie is the daughter of the Chieftain of Clan Leslie, an old line of Scots descended from King Charles II. She was even raised in her family’s 15th century castle!
Harrington has his own royal ancestry too, but he’s not at the top of a royal house. So, once he gets married, he goes from huge actor to Sir Huge Actor.
Did we miss any stars who married into royalty? Share them in the comments!
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