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American Royalty (Before Meghan Markle)

December 25, 2017

Meghan Markle was a moderately famous actress, best known for her role on a USA drama called Suits. Now she’s a princess-to-be — she’s been dating Prince Harry, fifth in line to the British throne, and the couple will marry next year. It’s especially newsworthy because Markle is both a “commoner” and she’s American. This is far from the first time an American has gone on to be royalty in another land.

Wallis Simpson

King George V of the U.K. died in January 1936, and the throne passed to his firstborn son, crowned as King Edward VIII. He didn’t last the year, abdicating his position as one of the most powerful people in the world. Why? Because if he kept his title, he couldn’t marry the woman he loved: Wallis Simpson, an American woman who’d been married (and divorced) twice already — extremely scandalous stuff for the 1930s. The couple married the following year.

Rita Hayworth

New York-born actress Rita Hayworth was queen of the screen in the 1940s for films like Gilda and Cover Girl, as well as American GIs favorite “pin-up girl” during World War II. With her second husband Orson Welles, she was half of a Hollywood power couple, until they divorce in 1987. Her next beau: Prince Aly Khan, son of Sultan Mahommed Shah, leader of a major sect of Shia Islam. After Hayworth caught dancing with actress Joan Fontaine in a nightclub, Hayworth filed for divorce, and soon thereafter resumed the film career she’d given up to marry Khan.

Lisa Halaby

Queen Noor of Jordan is one of the planet’s most prominent humanitarians on the global scale, supporting nuclear disarmament and serving on the International Commission on Missing Persons. She was born Lisa Halaby, daughter of a Syrian-American Navy test pilot. She worked in the architectural and planning industries in the ‘70s, where a job took her to Amman, Jordan, which is how she met the country’s constitutional monarch, King Hussein. They married in 1978; King Hussein died in 1999.

Christopher Thomas

Uganda’s Princess Ruth Komuntale didn’t come to the U.S. to find love — she came to study at American University in Washington, D.C. — but she found it anyway. She met Christopher Thomas, who didn’t even know at first that the woman he was dating was royalty in another nation. The accountant and Discovery Channel employee certainly knew by the time he proposed in a Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse in 2012. The royal couple split their time between Uganda and the U.S., where Komuntale worked for non-profit organizations. They split up about a year later.

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