We all know the backstories of Britain's Duchess Kate and Duchess Meghan, but what about the other women (and men) who ended up marrying royalty? From a former reality TV star to a struggling single mom to an American billionaire, Wonderwall.com is rounding up some of the most interesting men and women who got both a spouse and, in most cases, a title at their nuptials!
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A modern-day fairy tale! Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano was born into a middle-class family in Spain — her dad was a journalist and her mom was a registered nurse. Letizia herself followed in her father's footsteps, getting her bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism. She worked for Spanish newspapers, the Spanish version of Bloomberg, CNN and eventually became anchor of Spanish channel TVE's daily evening news show — the most viewed news program in Spain. During that time, she won a royal fan — Prince Felipe VI of Spain reached out to a journalist friend who set the two up for dinner. They dated in secret before announcing their engagement in 2003. The beauty — who'd divorced her first husband in 1999 — married Felipe in 2004, becoming Princess Letizia. She became Queen Letizia in 2014 when her husband became king. The two share daughters Leonor, Princess of Asturias (born in 2005) and Infanta Sofia of Spain (born in 2007).
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Imagine turning down a prince's proposal not once, not twice, but three times. That's exactly what Masako Owada did before becoming Masako, Crown Princess of Japan and, in 2019, Empress Masako after husband ascended the Chrysanthemum Throne to become Emperor Naruhito. Born in Tokyo, Masako spent time in Moscow and New York City before returning to Japan in her teens. She studied economics at Harvard and then studied law at the University of Tokyo. During that time, she attended a tea and met her future spouse, then known as Naruhito, Crown Prince of Japan, in 1986. He proposed three times during their courtship, with Masako regularly rejecting him because she didn't want to give up her career in diplomacy. Eventually, she agreed in 1992 — the prince reportedly argued that being the princess would be "another form of diplomacy," according to People magazine. The couple wed in 1993 and Masako became only the third commoner to marry into the Japanese royal family. The couple have one daughter, Aiko, Princess Toshi, who was born in 2001.
Peter Phillips, the son of Britain's Princess Anne and ex-husband Mark Phillips, married Autumn Kelly in 2008. They announced their amicable split in February 2020. Autumn and Peter met at the 2003 Formula 1 Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal, where the Canadian was living and working as a management consultant. Following their wedding, they welcomed their first child, daughter Savannah, in 2010. They welcomed a second daughter, Isla Elizabeth, in 2012.
Princess Anne and Mark Phillips' daughter, Zara Phillips, married professional rugby player Mike Tindall in 2011. Mike helped his team win the World Cup in 2003, and that's how he ended up first encountering the granddaughter of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II. He and Zara now share daughters Mia Grace (born in 2014) and Lena Elizabeth (born in 2018). He and Zara, whose mother declined a royal title for her children, are raising their girls without titles.
Being a royal isn't for everyone. When it came time for Princess Madeleine of Sweden's other half, British-born American financier Christopher O'Neill, to join the royal family, he politely declined a title and Swedish citizenship! The two met via mutual friends and wed in 2013. Christopher resigned from his job at Noster Capital, where he was a partner and head of research, because marrying a Swedish princess meant the company funds would have to divest from any company that traded on the Stockholm Stock Exchange or had more than a third of its sales in Sweden. But with no royal title or royal duties, Christopher remained a private citizen who was still eligible to work in finance. He shares three children with Princess Madeleine: Princess Leonore (born in 2014), Prince Nicolas (born in 2015) and Princess Adrienne (born in 2018). The family have since settled in Florida, moving there in the fall of 2018.
Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson's youngest daughter, Princess Eugenie, tied the knot with beau Jack Brooksbank in 2018. The two started dating in 2011 after they were introduced by friends while on vacation in Verbier, Switzerland, where Jack happened to be working. These days, he has a Hollywood connection at work — he's a wine merchant and brand ambassador for George Clooney and Rande Gerber's Casamigos tequila. Fun fact: Eugenie and Jack are technically related — they're third cousins twice-removed.
Princess Beatrice, the eldest daughter of Prince Andrew, Duke of York, and his ex-wife, Sarah, Duchess of York, was first linked to Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi, a British-Italian real estate magnate, in the fall of 2018. Their families go back further: Edo's stepfather, Christopher Shale, was a British political operative who was friends with Andrew and Fergie before his death. Edo proposed in September 2019 during a trip to Italy. Aside from working at the real estate firm Banda, which he founded back in 2007, Edo — who's set to wed Bea in May 2020 — co-founded the charity Cricket Builds Hope, an organization focused on teaching Rwandans how to play cricket. He has a young son, Christopher Woolf, with former fiancée Dara Huang, a Chinese-American architect.
Next up, an impossibly glamorous pair: Crown Princess Marie-Chantal and Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece. Born Marie-Chantal Miller in London to an Ecuadorian mother and a self-made billionaire American father, this future royal was studying art history at NYU in 1992 when she was set up on a blind date. The man she met that night? Pavlos, Crown Prince of Greece… and it was love at first sight. He proposed over Christmas 1993 while they were on a skiing holiday in Switzerland. They wed in 1995 and went on to have five children — Princess Maria-Olympia (born in 1996), Prince Constantine-Alexios (born in 1998), Prince Achileas-Andreas (born in 2000), Prince Odysseas-Kimon (born in 2004) and Prince Aristidis-Stavros (born in 2008). In 2018, Marie-Chantal was named one of the richest hedge-fund heiresses in London, thanks to her family's fortune that's estimated at around $2.8 billion.
Born in Kuwait to Palestinian parents, Rania Al-Yassin was working in marketing for Citibank before she landed at Apple in Amman, Jordan — a job that would change her life. She moved to Jordan and ended up meeting one of the country's most famous (and eligible!) men, Prince Abdullah bin Al-Hussein, at a dinner party in 1992 — and the rest is history! Six months later, they were engaged. They married in 1993 and now share four children — Crown Prince Hussein (born in 1994), Princess Iman (born in 1996), Princess Salma (born in 2000) and Prince Hashem (born in 2005). When Prince Abdullah bin Al-Hussein ascended the throne in 1999 and became king, he upgraded Rania's princess title by proclaiming her Queen Rania of Jordan a month later. How romantic!
From personal trainer to a prince! Daniel Westling was working as a personal trainer and gym owner before he married Victoria, Crown Princess of Sweden, in 2010. He also ran a company called Balance Training that owned three gyms in Stockholm, but after marrying Princess Victoria, he became Prince Daniel of Sweden and stepped down as CEO of that company. He and Victoria now share two children together — Princess Estelle (born in 2012) and Prince Oscar (born in 2016).
Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, is the second wife of Britain's Prince Charles. She was previously married to a British Army officer, Andrew Parker Bowles. The exes, who share son Tom (born in 1974) and daughter Laura (born in 1978), split in 1994 after living apart for years. The origins of her relationship with Prince Charles have been rife in scandal, as they had a relationship before their respective marriages, during his marriage to the late Princess Diana and prior to Camilla filing for divorce. Charles and Camilla made their first public appearance together in 1999 and wed in 2005.
Princess Anne's other half? Sir Timothy Laurence, a retired Royal Navy officer. Sir Timothy is her second husband: The Princess Royal was previously married to Mark Phillips, with whom she has son Peter (born in 1977) and daughter Zara (born in 1981). The couple first met in 1986, around the time rumors swirled that Princess Anne and Mark were about to split. He was serving as an equerry to Queen Elizabeth II, and the two hit it off. They married in 1992.
Prince Carl Philip of Sweden, the king's only son, married Sofia Hellqvist in 2015. Sofia was a former reality television contestant who'd made it to the finale of the Swedish show "Paradise Hotel" back in 2005. In 2010, she found herself eating at the same restaurant as the prince, and the two ended up having mutual friends and meeting. From there, they started dating and now have two children — Prince Alexander (born in 2016) and Prince Gabriel (born in 2017).
Charlotte Casiraghi is the daughter of Caroline, Princess of Hanover (the former Caroline, Princess of Monaco) and her second husband, Stefano Casiraghi — and the granddaughter of Rainier III, Prince of Monaco, and Grace Kelly. In 2019, she married Dimitri Rassam, a film producer who's the son of actress Carole Bouquet and producer Jean-Pierre Rassam. The two have one child together, son Balthazar, who was born in 2018. (Charlotte also has son Raphael, who was born in 2013, with ex Gad Elmaleh, a stand-up comic and actor.)
American-born Tatiana Santo Domingo is the wife of Andrea Casiraghi, who's the son of Caroline, Princess of Hanover, and her second husband, Stefano Casiraghi — and the grandson of Rainier III, Prince of Monaco and Grace Kelly. Born to a Colombian father and Brazilian mother, Tatiana was raised in Geneva, Switzerland and Paris. Unlike many royals' significant others, Tatiana is actually wealthier than Prince Andrea — ranking at No. 722 on Forbes' 2016 list of the world's billionaires thanks to an inheritance from her grandfather, Julio Mario Santo Domingo, who owned one of the largest breweries in South America. Tatiana gave birth to the couple's first son, Alexandre Andrea Stefano, in March 2013 and the couple married a few months later. Their second child, daughter India, was born in 2015. They welcomed son Maximilian in 2018.
She's now the Crown Princess of Norway, but Mette-Marit Tjessem Høiby has some very humble beginnings. She was born in the southern part of the country, where her parents divorced during her youth. It took her a long time to finish her high school education, and she worked on and off as a waitress before becoming a single mother in the late '90s to son Marius Borg Høiby. Later that decade, she attended the Quart Festival, the country's biggest music festival, and ended up meeting Crown Prince Haakon at a garden party — though they didn't hit if off right away. It was years later after the two reconnected at another Quart Festival party that they became an item. They announced their engagement in 2000 and Mette-Marit was given the same engagement ring that Crown Prince Haakon's grandfather, King Olav V, and father, King Harald V, gave their fiancées. Despite rumblings in the press that Mette-Marit wasn't princess material, the couple wed in 2001 and went on to have two children together — Princess Ingrid Alexandra (born in 2004) and Prince Sverre Magnus (born in 2005).
Alessandra de Osma was already incredibly accomplished before becoming a princess. Born in Peru to a former model and an executive at a cash management firm, she followed in her mom's footsteps, signing with Ford Models at 16. Alessandra modeled through her teens before attending school to get her master's degree in fashion and business management and went on to study law at the University of Lima. So how did she end up meeting Prince Christian of Hanover? She served as his tour guide while he was vacationing in Peru in 2005. But the two didn't start dating until years later in 2011. They married in a lavish three-day event in 2018 in Alessandra's native country.
Before she was Princess Claire of Luxembourg, she was Claire Margareta Lademacher. And though she wasn't yet royalty, she may as well have been! Her father was the founder of LHS Telekommunikation and owned castles — yes, plural! — in both Croatia and St.-Tropez. It was while attending College Alpin International Beau Soleil in Switzerland that she met a real royal — Prince Felix of Luxembourg — and became smitten. But dating the royal didn't hinder her career: She began working in publishing at Conde Nast before deciding to switch gears and pursue a career in academic bioethics. The two married in 2013 and went on to have two children, Princess Amalia (born in 2014) and Prince Liam (born in 2016). The family currently live in Geneva, where Princess Claire is pursuing a doctorate in the field of organ donation ethics.
From designer and filmmaker to princess! Russian-born Ekaterina Malysheva already had quite the glamorous life before marrying into royalty. The blonde beauty had a bustling fashion career and was a documentary filmmaker when she met Ernst August, Prince of Hanover, at a party in London in 2011. The two married in 2017 and welcomed daughter Princess Elisabeth of Hanover in 2018. In 2019, they had Prince Welf August of Hanover.
Prince Edward, the youngest child of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, has been married to Sophie Rhys-Jones since 1999. Sophie, now Countess of Wessex, was a public relations executive with her own firm at the time of their marriage but left that field in 2002 to become a full-time working member of the British royal family. She and Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, share daughter Lady Louise Windsor (born in 2003) and son James, Viscount Severn (born in 2007).
Princess Charlene of Monaco (the former Charlene Wittstock) met notorious bachelor Prince Albert II (son of Rainier III, Prince of Monaco, and Grace Kelly) back in 2000 at the Mare Nostrum swimming meet. The Olympic swimmer, who hails from Zimbabwe, wed the royal in 2011. She welcomed twins in 2014: daughter Princess Gabrielle and son Prince Jacques.
Monaco's Princess Caroline — the eldest child of Prince Rainier III and Grace Kelly — has been married three times, most recently to Prince Ernst August of Hanover, Duke of Brunswick. Born in Germany, he was technically royalty in his own right before marrying Princess Caroline of Monaco as he's the eldest son of Ernst August, Hereditary Prince of Brunswick, and the senior male-line descendant of Britain's George III. His first marriage was ordered to Chantal Hochuli, the heiress daughter of a Swiss real-estate developer, but that ended after 16 years. He married Caroline in 1999 while she was pregnant with their daughter, Princess Alexandra Charlotte, who was born six months after their nuptials. The couple split about a decade later but have yet to divorce.
Pengiran Haji Muhammad Ruzaini was a civil servant in the prime minister's office before marrying into one of the world's wealthiest families. Pengiran wed Princess Hajah Hafizah Sururul Bolkiah, a daughter of the Sultan of Brunei, in a lavish 2012 ceremony.
Before marrying into Monaco's royal family, Beatrice Borromeo was famous in her own right as she worked in the news in her native Italy. She wed Pierre Casiraghi (the son of Prince Rainier of Monaco and Grace Kelly's daughter Caroline, now Princess of Hanover, and her second husband, Stefano Casiraghi) in 2015 and famously donned four designer wedding dresses (two from Valentino, two from Armani Prive). The couple welcomed their first son, Stefano, in 2017; son Francesco followed in 2018. Beatrice is still a fashionista, albeit a royal one now: She's seen here with husband Pierre during Milan Fashion Week in 2018.
King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden is married to Silvia Renate Sommerlath. German-born Silvia, whose father was German and mother was Brazilian, first met then-Crown Prince Carl at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich — just one year before his father, King Gustaf VI Adolf, passed away and he succeeded to the throne. They were engaged by 1976 and married that same year. Fun fact: Swedish group ABBA performed "Dancing Queen" for the first time at a Royal Variety Performance the night before their wedding as a tribute to the future queen. The happy couple went on to have three children — Crown Princess Victoria (born in 1977), Prince Carl Philip (born in 1979) and Princess Madeleine (born in 1982).
Elisabetta Rosboch von Wolkenstein was born in Italy to film producer parents and went on to attend Rome's Lycee Chateaubriand and London's Queen Mary University. After graduating, she started working for Bloomberg News' cultural section in 2009 in New York City, where she would meet her future husband. Prince Amedeo of Belgium was working there as an analyst at Deloitte at the time they hit it off. They wed in 2014 and welcomed a daughter, Archduchess Anna Astrid, in 2016.