In fairy tales, there's always that moment where a prince gets down on one knee. But in real life, how do the world's royals actually propose? Wonderwall.com is rounding up the engagement stories of some of our favorite royal couples — starting with Britain's future king, Prince William, who dated Kate Middleton for eight years before he finally popped the question. The two were spending time in Kenya, one of his favorite vacation destinations, when he finally got down on one knee in 2010. He chose to do it on Mount Kenya in the midst of the wilderness during a safari vacation with friends. He presented Kate with his late mother Princess Diana's sapphire and diamond engagement ring. They married at Westminster Abbey in April 2011. One thing that wasn't traditional about this royal engagement? William didn't ask Kate's father for her hand, later explaining, "I thought if I ask Kate first, then he can't really say 'no.'" Keep reading for more royal proposal stories…
It's only fitting that the queen got engaged in a castle! Prince Philip (then known as Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark) proposed to Queen Elizabeth II (then known as Princess Elizabeth) in 1947 at Balmoral Castle in Scotland. He presented the future monarch with a three-carat round-cut diamond ring made from gems from a tiara that belonged to his mother, Princess Alice of Battenberg. The two had met many years earlier when Elizabeth was just 13 and Philip was 18. They wed in Westminster Abbey four months after their engagement was announced and have now set a record — Elizabeth is the longest married reigning British monarch thanks to her union of more than 70 years.
RELATED: Royal engagement rings
When it came time for Princess Margaret's beau, photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones, to pop the question, he did it at Windsor Castle. And there was something extra special about the engagement ring he presented her with: It was inspired by her middle name, Rose, and adorned with rubies circling a smaller diamond to look like a rose bud. Their 1960 wedding at Westminster Abbey was the first televised royal wedding in history. But Margaret and the Earl of Snowdon's story didn't end with a happily ever after: They divorced 18 years later.
RELATED: Royal wedding dresses
Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece proposed to Marie-Chantal Miller during a Christmas holiday vacation in Gstaad, Switzerland, back in 1994. So where did he do it? On a ski lift! The glamorous couple wed in a Greek Orthodox ceremony at St. Sophia's Cathedral in Bayswater, London, six months later in July 1995.
Prince Andrew proposed to Sarah Ferguson in the same place they shared their first kiss! The romantic gestures both took place at Scotland's Floors Castle. The Duke of York popped the question five days after Valentine's Day in 1986, presenting Sarah with a white and yellow gold ring with a Burmese ruby, reportedly to complement her red hair. More than 500 million people tuned in to watch when they wed five months later at Westminster Abbey. They split 10 years later.
Not all royal engagements take place in castles or on luxurious vacations. Professional rugby player Mike Tindall proposed to his girlfriend of seven years, Zara Phillips (Princess Anne's daughter), back in December 2010 in a very relatable way — on the couch watching TV a few days before Christmas. Mike, who gave the queen's granddaughter a platinum ring with a solitaire diamond surrounded by pavé stones, later opened up about the magical moment in an interview with the Daily Mail: "She started laughing. She was completely in shock. Then, when she stopped laughing, she said 'yes.'"
Prince Carl Philip of Sweden proposed to his model (and former reality star!) girlfriend Sofia Hellqvist early one morning at their home in June 2014. In a press conference shortly after, Carl Philip admitted that he was nervous, saying, "I woke up several times the night before, I do not know if Sofia noticed. I wanted it to be a surprise." Sofia noted it was a surprise, since she was usually the first one to wake, adding, "I did think he was strangely refreshed that morning." He designed the engagement ring himself — a center diamond surrounded by a halo of smaller diamonds with a diamond-studded band. The couple, who'd been dating for four years at that point, wed the following summer.
A little more than a week after Valentine's Day, Prince Charles proposed to Lady Diana Spencer while they were at Windsor Castle in 1981. When he asked her, "Will you marry me?" she replied "Yeah, OK," thinking it was a joke, according to biographer Andrew Morton. The two had been dating just six months at that point. As the story goes, Diana choose her own engagement ring — a 12-carat sapphire and diamond stunner — from a tray of more than a dozen rings from royal jeweler Garrard, which Charles had presented to her on a tray following a meal with the queen. They wed at St. Paul's Cathedral five months later in a televised ceremony watched by 750 million people. They divorced 15 years later.
The world has been captivated by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's love story, but the couple have chosen to keep their relationship pretty private. They didn't share too many details about their engagement, except to reveal that Harry proposed during a regular night at home at Kensington Palace's Nottingham Cottage in the fall of 2017. They were roasting a chicken when Harry got down on one knee and presented the American actress with a ring he'd designed himself — one ripe with special meaning. The three-carat cushion-cut center diamond came from Botswana, a country where they'd spent time together early in their romance. That was flanked by two smaller diamonds that came from the private jewelry collection of Harry's late mother, Princess Diana. The two famously wed in May 2018.
Peter Phillips had grandiose engagement plans in 2007 — Princess Anne's son wanted to propose to his Canadian girlfriend of five years, Autumn Kelly, during a hot air balloon ride. But the British weather had other plans. It was raining too hard for the balloon ride to happen, so he improvised and proposed while they walked their dog in the rain that day. Though the proposal was casual, the ring was not! The white gold three-stone ring features a large oval-shaped diamond in the middle. The couple wed in May 2008 at St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle.
Captain Mark Phillips got down on one knee to pop the question to Princess Anne back in May 1973 armed with a stunning sapphire-and-diamond engagement ring. The private couple wed six months later at Westminster Abbey. More than 500 million people watched as the couple tied the knot during a televised ceremony. This one didn't last" Though they almost made it to 20 years of marriage, they divorced in 1992.
Proposing to a princess can be intimidating! When Sweden's Crown Princess Victoria's personal trainer boyfriend Daniel Westling proposed, he was "a little nervous," he later admitted to reporters. "I was hoping for a 'yes' but I wasn't entirely sure." He got down on one knee in 2009 while the couple were outdoors in Drottningholm to ask the important question. He was equipped with a white-gold ring featuring a round-cut solitaire diamond. They wed a year later in June 2010.
Princess Eugenie said yes in January 2018 when boyfriend Jack Brooksbank asked her to marry him — while they were on vacation in Nicaragua! The setting was perfect: Jack got down on one knee while they watched the sun setting over a volcano. The ring was also pretty perfect — an oval, coral-colored padparadscha sapphire center stone surrounded by diamonds (it's very similar to her mother Sarah, Duchess of York's ring). They wed in October the same year at St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle in a televised ceremony.
The Christmas season is a popular time for engagements — just ask Prince Edward. who got the memo in 1998. After five year of dating, he asked public relations manager Sophie Rhys-Jones to marry him — while the couple vacationed on Windermere Island in the Bahamas. Edward presented her with a 2-carat oval diamond surrounded by heart-shaped gems by royal jeweler Garrard. When they married at St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle six months later in 1999, they opted to keep things private, exchanging vows in an untelevised ceremony.
Prince Felipe of Asturias (now King Felipe VI of Spain) proposed to his then-secret girlfriend, divorced journalist Letizia Ortiz (now Queen Letizia), with an unconventional 16-baguette diamond engagement ring in 2003. The news came as a shock to the country, as the couple had kept their relationship private before announcing their big news. It's unknown how long they dated prior to Felipe's proposal. They tied the knot the following year in May 2004.