True romance: Wills and Kate join a tradition of love that includes Jordan's Rania and Abdullah
Prince William and Kate Middleton are the latest incarnation of fairy tale royal love stories. Here’s who went before them
Once upon a time... long before Prince William and Kate Middleton reinstated our belief in fairytale romances, there existed a string of royals who defied all odds to honour the love of their lives. They didn’t rely on plucking flowers for a “loves me, loves me not” confirmation. Nor did they die trying. These were men and women of conviction - royals who dared to be different and commoners who chose to look beyond the glamour of a royal life to weave their own happily ever afters.
Here are our favourite picks of royal love stories... and those who didn’t make it.
Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier
It was love at first shot for the handsome prince- Rainier III of Monaco- who took an instant liking to Oscar-winning American actress Grace Kelly during a photo shoot.
Their photograph was required for a magazine spread as part of the Cannes Film Festival’s coverage. At the time Kelly was 26 years old and the prince was 32.
This was also a time when the prince, considered the most eligible bachelor in the world, had broken off an engagement because his fiancee was allegedly infertile.
Eight months later, in January 1956, the couple announced they were engaged to be married.
Kelly was required to take a fertility test prior to the wedding.
After the “wedding of the century”- which consisted of two ceremonies, as per tradition- the couple drove through Monte Carlo in an open-top Rolls-Royce, a gift from the people of Monaco.
Kelly wore her engagement ring- a Cartier 12-carat emerald-cut diamond ring- in her last film, High Society, following which she gave up the movies at Rainier’s request.
The couple also signed a contract whereby, in case of a divorce, Kelly would relinquish all rights to their three children.
Queen Rania and King Abdullah of Jordan
She was an Apple employee, an executive-in-training from a middle-class Palestinian family. He was the eldest son of King Hussain and the future king of Jordan.
And yet, as Prince Abdullah recalls, during an interview with an elite magazine, how it was “love at first sight”, on his part, for the then 22-year-old Rania Al Yassin.
The couple had first met at a dinner party in January 1993. Six months later, they were married.
Queen Rania once said she was intimidated by the fact that she was in a relationship with the son of one of the most powerful men of the Middle East.
They have four children together. Queen Rania, who is involved in extensive charity work, is also known for her exceptional style sense.
She is among one of the world’s few royals active on YouTube and Twitter.
(See more royal weddings at gulfnews.com/tabloid)
Prince Felipe and Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano
Is the pen truly mightier than the sword?
In the case of Spain’s Crown Prince Felipe and former journalist Letizia Ortiz, this just might be the case.
His Royal Highness the Prince of Asturias, Felipe is the third child of King Juan Carlos and Queen Sophia.
When the beautiful and well-educated Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano met the Prince for an assignment in 2002, little did they know what destiny had scripted for them.
Rocasolano, a 31-year-old divorcee, soon began secretly meeting the prince and on May 22, 2004, they got married, despite the fact that she was a commoner.
This was the first royal wedding in Spain in 100 years.
Upon marrying the Prince, Rocasolano became the Princess of Asturias.
The couple now have two daughters.
Vanity Fair magazine has featured Princess Letizia on its International Best Dressed List on multiple occasions.
Princess Victoria and Daniel Westling
Born in 1973, Daniel Westling was an ordinary man for the most part of his life.
That is until 2002, when the paparazzi caught him kissing Swedish Crown Princess Victoria at a restaurant. The 32-year-old princess had first met Westling, 36, when she joined his gym.
When news of their relationship broke, most mocked him for being an “outsider”.
Reports state that nearly 250,000 people lined the streets of Stockholm to celebrate their princess’ “fairytale royal wedding”. The highly expensive affair- estimated at 20 million crowns (Dh12 million)- caused widespread protests, despite the king’s announcement that he would pay half of it.
The protesters turned to Facebook with groups such as “Refuse to pay for Victoria’s wedding” and “If I’m supposed to pay for Victoria’s and Daniel’s wedding, I want an invitation”.
King Harald V and Queen Sonja
Sonja Haraldsen’s marriage to Crown Prince Harald, on August 29, 1968, earned her the title of Royal Highness Crown Princess Sonja of Norway.
Prior to that, her only claim to fame was that she was the daughter of a retail merchant.
The couple had been courting for nine years, but had kept their relationship a secret because of Sonja’s non-royal status.
Prince Harald, at this time, was adamant that he would marry no one else.
This was a cause for concern for King Olav V, as Prince Harald was the sole heir to the throne- if he remained unmarried it would jeopardise the future of the Norwegian monarchy.
Faced with having to choose one of his relatives- from the Danish Royal Family- as his new heir in place of his son, Olav V sought his government’s advice and finally gave in to Harald’s demands to marry Sonja.
When Harald acceded to the throne on the death of King Olav V, on January 17, 1991, Norway also gained a queen for the first time in 53 years.
Princess Margaret and Peter Townsend
Sweet dreams are made of this. A beautiful young princess, third in line to the throne, and a dashing Group Captain, a handsome hero of the Battle of Britain.
Princess Margaret and Peter Townsend became the talk of the town, especially at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth in 1953, when images of their mutual fondness for each other were widely circulated in British tabloids.
But royalty knows no common blood and this worked against Townsend who, despite being brave and worthy of Margaret’s love, was also divorced.
And after King Edward, the monarchy did not wish to lose another royal to a commoner.
Margaret was eventually forced- by her own sister, Queen Elizabeth II- to sever all ties with Townsend or give up her royal rights and income.
Twenty-five and left with no choice, she issued a statement to announce that her relationship with Townsend was officially over. He soon married again, reportedly to a woman who physically resembled Margaret, while she married Anthony Armstrong-Jones in 1960. They divorced in 1978.
Prince Edward and Wallis Simpson
Always one to live life by her own terms, Bessie Wallis Warfield decided to discard her first name.
She survived her marriage to Navy pilot Earl Winfield Spencer- and was in a relationship with Ernest Simpson- before a chance meeting, in 1931, with Edward, Prince of Wales, at a house party.
He was charming and highly eligible. She was married. By 1934, and despite being committed, Wallis was in a quandary- she had to choose between the two men.
Prince Edward soon introduced Wallis to his mother, but King George V refused to meet her.
When George V died in January 1936, Prince Edward VIII succeeded him as king.
By January 1936, King Edward’s love for Wallis was an open secret.
King Edward was determined to marry Wallis, but could not convince the royal family to accept her as his queen.
They gave him a choice: either give up Wallis or the throne.
He eventually abdicated on December 11, 1936, and was succeeded by his younger brother.
But reports say that the duo failed to find a fulfilling role after Edward abdicated. As Wallis once said: “You can’t abdicate and eat it.”
Princess Sayako and Yoshiki Kuroda
Princess Sayako, the only daughter of Emperor Akihito of Japan, must have taken a cue from King Edward when she decided to give up everything for the love of her life â" Yoshiki Kuroda, an urban planner.
As per law, if an Imperial Princess wishes to marry a commoner, she must abdicate the throne and her title, which 36-year-old Princess Sayako, also known as Princess Nori, did.
On November 15, 2005, she chose Kuroda over her right to the throne, official membership of the Imperial Family and her royal allowance.
Kuroda thus became the first commoner to marry an Imperial Princess.
Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah and Azrinaz Mazhar Hakim: unhappily ever after
No one knows what led to the divorce between 63-year-old Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei and his 30-year-old wife, Azrinaz Mazhar Hakim, a former Malaysian television journalist.
Azrinaz became the king’s third wife after the couple married in 2005. The relationship ended on June 16, 2010, and Azrinaz was stripped of all her royal titles.
The sultan later announced that the divorce had been granted due to “special reasons”.
Azrinaz bore the king two children, adding to his 10 heirs from his previous marriages.
By Nasheet Jaffer Khan
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