U.S. actress Meghan Markle, who is to wed Britain’s Prince Harry next year, will become the latest American to marry into a royal family. Here’s a brief look at five other American women who became princesses or queens:
Actress Grace Kelly was at the peak of a glittering Hollywood career when she gave it up to marry Prince Rainier III of Monaco in April 1956.
Grace Patricia Kelly was born on Nov. 12, 1929 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the third of four children in a wealthy Irish-Catholic family. The blonde beauty made her film debut in 1951 in Fourteen Hours and shot to fame the following year alongside Gary Cooper in High Noon.
She won an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress for Mogambo in 1953 and the Academy Award for Best Actress the following year for The Country Girl.
But Kelly is perhaps best known for her roles in three Alfred Hitchcock movies—Dial M for Murder, Rear Window and To Catch a Thief.
Kelly abandoned her career entirely when she married Prince Rainier after a whirlwind courtship. They had three children: Caroline; Albert, the reigning monarch in Monaco; and Stephanie. Kelly died in September 1982 when her car ran off the road after she suffered a stroke at the wheel.
Wallis Simpson was a twice-divorced American woman whose marriage to Britain’s King Edward VIII led to him relinquishing the crown in December 1936.
Bessie Wallis Warfield was born on June 19, 1896 in Blue Ridge Summit, Pennsylvania. Her father died shortly after her birth. Warfield married a U.S. naval aviator, Win Spencer, in 1916, divorced him in 1927 and wed a shipping executive, Ernest Simpson, the following year.
She became involved with then-Prince Edward in 1934. His relationship with an American divorcee was frowned upon by Britain’s royal and political class.
Edward became king in January 1936 but abdicated in December that same year and married Simpson—“the woman I love”—in June 1937.
Edward and Simpson were named the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. Edward died in 1972 and Simpson in 1986. They had no children.
Actress Rita Hayworth married Prince Aly Khan—the son of the Aga Khan III, the then spiritual leader of Ismaili Muslims regarded as a direct descendent of Islam’s Prophet—in 1949 after the breakup of her marriage to actor-director Orson Welles.
Hayworth was born Margarita Carmen Cansino on Oct. 17, 1918 in Brooklyn, New York, to show business parents. After moving to Los Angeles as a teenager, she had bit parts in several movies before adopting the screen name Rita Hayworth and going on to stardom.
Nicknamed the “Love Goddess” by Life magazine, she appeared alongside Fred Astaire in the 1941 film You’ll Never Get Rich and a host of other hits including Gilda, in which she performed a strip scene, which was seen as scandalous at the time.
In 1949, a pregnant Hayworth married Aly Khan. She gave birth to a daughter, Princess Yasmin Aga Khan, in December 1949. She divorced Aly Khan in 1953 after a tumultuous marriage and went on to marry two more times.
Hayworth suffered from Alzheimer’s disease in her later years and died in New York in May 1987.
Jordan’s Queen Noor married King Hussein in 1978, becoming the fourth and final wife of the leader of the Hashemite Kingdom.
Lisa Najeeb Halaby was born on Aug. 23, 1951 in Washington to a prominent Christian Arab-American family. Her father was the chief executive of the airline Pan American and also headed the Federal Aviation Administration. A graduate of Princeton University, Halaby married King Hussein in June 1978, converting to his Muslim faith and becoming Queen Noor al-Hussein.
They had four children.
Since the king’s death in 1999, Queen Noor has been active in philanthropic activities and the nuclear non-proliferation movement.
New York socialite Hope Cooke married the crown prince of the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Sikkim in 1963 in a real-life story that has been compared to the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical The King and I.
Cooke was born on June 24, 1940 in San Francisco. Her mother, a pilot, died in a plane crash when Cooke was just two years old, and she was raised by her grandparents in New York.
She met Palden Thondup Namgyal, the widowed crown prince of Sikkim, during a 1959 trip to India as a college student. They fell in love and married in 1963 and she became the Gyalmo, or queen consort, when her husband took the throne in 1965 and became Chogyal, or king.
Sikkim was annexed by India in 1973 and Cooke returned to the United States with their two children. She divorced her husband in 1980 and he died two years later.
Cooke recounted her life in a 1981 autobiography, Time Change.