From Rita Hayworth to Meghan Markle – American women who became princesses

For nearly 100 years, American women have joined some of the oldest royal families in the world, taking their place among the most influential figures of their time. From Hollywood to Baltimore, princes around the world have found their brides in the United States. But who are the women who traded their homes for a throne?

Rita Hayworth

Rita Hayworth and Aly Khan
Hollywood star Rita Hayworth married Prince Aly Khan in 1949 in a whirlwind romance that captured the world’s imagination.
George W. Hales/Getty Images

Rita Hayworth, known as the red-haired screen siren, married Prince Aly Khan, a son of His Highness Aga Khan III. The couple met in 1948 and married in Cannes the following year. Hayworth retired from acting and traveled Europe with her husband, living between the south of France, London and Switzerland. The couple had one child, a daughter Yasmin, before they finally divorced in 1953.

Grace Kelly

Grace Kelly
American sweetheart Grace Kelly married Prince Rainier III in 1956. from Monaco.
Bettman via Getty Images

Grace Kelly is perhaps the most famous American-born princess who was born to Prince Rainier III in 1956. of Monaco married. The whirlwind romance came after Grace attended the Cannes Film Festival and was invited to do some photography in the Riviera town of Monte Carlo. After an exchange of letters with the prince, Grace became engaged and, upon marriage, became the eldest lady in the Grimaldi royal house. Princess Grace would dedicate the next few decades of her life to her family – she and Rainier had three children – and to the welfare and advancement of the people of Monaco. In 1982, Grace died in a tragic car accident while driving her daughter Stephanie back to Monaco from their weekend home in the hills bordering France. She was 52 years old.

Lee Radziwill

Princess Lee Radziwill
Lee Bouvier, famous for being Jackie Kennedy’s sister, married Prince Stanisław Radziwiłł in 1959. Photographed June 13, 1967.
Reg Burkett/Express/Getty Images

Lee Radziwill, née Bouvier, is perhaps best known for being the glamorous sister of Jackie Kennedy. Throughout her sister’s years as First Lady, Lee accompanied Jackie as unofficial lady-in-waiting and was at her side after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963. Lee’s own story is practically as eventful as Jackie’s. In 1959 she married Prince Stanisław Albrecht Radziwiłł, a prince whose family came from Poland. While living in London, Lee developed a flair for interior design and later made it her profession. Although the marriage produced two children and an undisputed mutual affection between the couple, they divorced in 1974. Lee later went on to be a successful interior designer and had a career in fashion journalism and acting.

Kendra Spears

Princess Salwa Aga Khan
Born Kendra Spears in Seattle, Washington, she took the name and title of Princess Salwa Aga Khan upon her marriage to Prince Rahim Aga Khan. Photographed on the occasion of the royal engagement (L), April 15, 2013, and at a reception at Windsor Castle with Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II (R), March 18, 2018.
Gary Otte/AKDN via Getty Images/DOMINIC LIPINSKI/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Kendra Spears was an American model who had a successful runway and campaign career in the late 2000s. After signing with Ford Model Agency in New York, Spears modeled in runway shows during fashion weeks in New York, London, Milan and Paris before meeting Prince Rahim Aga Khan in 2012. The prince is a grandson of Prince Aly Khan, former husband of Hollywood actress Rita Hayworth. Upon her marriage in 2013, Kendra took the name and title Princess Salwa Aga Khan. The couple live in homes across Europe and have two children, Prince Irfan and Prince Sinan.

Kelly Rondestvedt

Princess Kelly of Saxe-Coburg
Investment banker Kelly Rondestvedt married Hubertus, Hereditary Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha in 2009. Photographed at the wedding of Princess Madeline of Sweden on June 8, 2013.
Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Born in Florida in 1975, Kelly Rondestvedt later became a successful investment banker at Morgan Stanley. In 2007 she met Hubertus, Hereditary Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, when he was living in New York. The couple began dating shortly thereafter and married in 2009 in a ceremony at St. Moritz Church in Coburg, part of what is now Bavaria. As Prince of Saxe-Coburg, Prince Hubertus is related to most of the royal houses in Europe. Queen Victoria’s mother was from Saxony-Coburg. Therefore, Kelly and Hubertus’ wedding was a grand royal event attended by the King and Queen of Sweden alongside 400 invited guests. Princess Kelly and Hubertus have three children and live in Europe.

Megan Markle

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's wedding
Meghan Markle, actress and social advocate, married Britain’s Prince Harry on May 19, 2018.
Ben Stansall/WPA Pool/Getty Images

Meghan Markle took the world by storm after marrying the son of Britain’s Princess Diana and Prince Charles in May 2018. California-born Meghan became an actress and championed gender equality and women’s rights before becoming a princess. After a fairytale wedding at Windsor Castle in the presence of Queen Elizabeth II, Meghan began a long and sometimes difficult process of carving out a modern royal role. After a painful period of family and social unrest, Meghan and Harry decided to leave the UK and settle in California. The couple have been vocal in their support of racial equality in the aftermath of their retirement from full-time working members of the royal family, and took part in an interview with Oprah Winfrey in 2021 where she tells her side of the story. Meghan and Harry have two children, Archie Harrison and Lilibet Diana.

For more royal news and commentary, check out Newsweek’s The Royal Report podcast:
Rita Hayworth and Meghan Markle
For nearly 100 years, American women have joined some of the world’s oldest royal families: from Rita Hayworth (L) to Meghan Markle (R).
Bettmann via Getty Images/Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images From Rita Hayworth to Meghan Markle – American women who became princesses

Rick Schindler

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