LONDON: In just over three weeks, US actress Meghan Markle will join a select group of “commoners” to marry into a royal family when she weds Britain’s Prince Harry at Windsor Castle.
Markle, 36, follows the likes of Kate Middleton, who married Harry’s elder brother William in 2011, and another American actress Grace Kelly who gave up her Hollywood career to become the wife of Prince Rainier III of Monaco.
Here are some recent marriages involving royals and commoners:
Kate Middleton and Prince William
Kate Middleton, whose father is a pilot and mother an air stewardess who later set up a mail order business, met Britain’s Prince William while at St Andrews University in Scotland in 2001. They married on April 29, 2011, with Kate becoming the first commoner in more than 350 years to wed a prince in such close proximity to the British throne.
The couple recently welcomed their third baby this week.
Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier
Hollywood icon Grace Kelly, star of films such as To Catch a Thief and Dial M for Murder, retired from her acting career to marry Rainier, the sovereign of the principality, on April 18, 1956 after the pair met at the Cannes Film Festival a year earlier.
Kelly died in a car crash in 1982 while Rainier passed away in 2005.
Princess Takako Suga and Hisanaga Shimazu
Japan’s Princess Takako Suga, the youngest daughter of Japanese Emperor Hirohito, married financial analyst Hisanaga Shimazu in Tokyo in 1960.
She gave up her imperial title and relinquished her status to be a commoner, adopting her husband’s name to become Takako Shimazu.
Hope Cooke and Palden Thondup Namgyal
American socialite Hope Cooke married Palden Thondup Namgyal, Crown Prince of Sikkim, in north India on March 20, 1963. She went on a summer trip to India and met him in 1959 in the lounge of the Windamere Hotel in Darjeeling. He was a recent widower with two sons and a daughter and was nearly twice Cooke’s age.
She renounced her American citizenship after the marriage and Namgyal later ceased to be king after the region was absorbed as a state of India in 1975.
Rania Al-Yassin and Jordan Crown Prince Abdullah
Doctor’s daughter Rania Al-Yassin, born in Kuwait to Palestinian parents, met Jordan’s Crown Prince Abdullah II at a dinner party. She studied in Cairo and worked for Citibank and Apple in Jordan. The couple married in 1993 and Abdullah assumed the throne in 1999.
Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano and Spain’s Prince Felipe
Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano was a divorced journalist and well-known news anchor before marrying Spain’s Prince Felipe on May 22, 2004. She became Spain’s first commoner queen in June, 2014, when her huband was sworn in as king.
Ortiz, daughter of a journalist and a nurse and the granddaughter of a taxi-driver, dated Felipe in secret before their engagement was announced in November 2003. They met at a dinner organised by a journalist friend.
Denmark’s Prince Joachim and Marie Agathe Odile Cavallier
Prince Joachim, fourth-in-line to the Danish throne, met French-born Marie Agathe Odile Cavallier at a private hunt in 2002. In 2005, Joachim divorced his Hong Kong-born wife Alexandra, with whom he has two sons, by mutual consent.
The prince proposed to Cavallier while they were on vacation in Turkey, and the pair married in May 2008, at a tradition-steeped ceremony in an ancient church in the tiny village of Moegeltoender. Cavallier became known as Her Royal Highness Princess Marie.
Monaco’s Prince Albert and Olympian Charlene Wittstock
Charlene Lynette Wittstock was born in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe in January 1978. She competed for South Africa at the 2000 Olympics before marrying Prince Albert II of Monaco on July 1, 2011.
The couple began dating in 2006 and married in an opulent ceremony in Monte Carlo attended by European royalty and the international elite. Prince Albert is the son of Grace Kelly.
Jetsun Pema and King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck
Bhutan’s King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck married young commoner Jetsun Pema in October 2011.
Jetsun Pema was just 21 when she married the 31-year-old Oxford University-educated king. She is viewed as a style icon across much of Asia and gave birth to their first son, the crown prince, in February 2016.