Grace Kelly, Rita Hayworth and other Americans who've married into royalty

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Thursday, May 17, 2018
Grace Kelly, Queen Noor and other Americans who've ascended to royalty
Meghan Markle is preparing to marry a royal, but she's not the first American to climb the ranks of royalty.

Meghan Markle is preparing to marry into the royal family, but she's not the first American to ascend to nobility. Take a look back at some of the other American women who have climbed the royal ranks over the years:

Grace Kelly

Grace Kelly, then a 26-year-old Hollywood actress, married Monaco's Prince Rainier III in 1956 in what has been hailed as one of the most famous weddings in history. The two met at a magazine photo shoot, and while it reportedly wasn't love at first sight, they found their way back to each other.

At the wedding, which was viewed on television by an estimated 30 million people, Kelly wore a dress designed in secret by MGM costumers that included 450 yards of silk and lace. The couple went on to have three children and were married until Kelly's death in 1982.

Rita Hayworth

Celebrated actress Rita Hayworth married Prince Aly Khan, the son of the leader of the Shia Ismaili Muslim community, in 1949.

"Rita seemed to have invited the world, for more than 500 guests (among them representatives from almost every major American and European newspaper) consumed 600 bottles of champagne, 50 pounds of caviar and mounds of other gourmet treats," Vanity Fair's Anne Edwards reported in 1993.

The marriage, Hayworth's third, lasted a matter of years before Hayworth filed for divorce.

Princess Caroline Lee Radziwill

American socialite Lee Radziwill spent more than a decade married to Prince Stanislaw Radziwill, a member of the Polish aristocracy. Together the couple had two children, Prince Anthony and Princess Christina. At the time of the couple's 1974 divorce, People magazine speculated that their 19-year age difference, as well as their different business interests, led to the split.

Radziwill, the younger sister of former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, has since worked as an interior designer and a public relations executive.

Queen Noor of Jordan

Born Lisa Najeeb Halaby in Washington, D.C., Queen Noor of Jordan worked throughout the Middle East. She reportedly met and befriended the King of Jordan as he mourned the death of his previous wife, and the two married in 1978.

While she was viewed by some Jordanians as "too ambitious, too forceful and too foreign to be Queen in what is a very conservative society," Queen Noor eventually won over much of the country, according to the New York Times.

The couple had four children before the king died of lymphatic cancer in 1999. Queen Noor has remained active in philanthropy and political activism and was honored in 2015 with Princeton's Woodrow Wilson Award.

Princess Salwa Aga Khan

Kendra Spears was born in Seattle, Washington, and later moved to New York City to pursue a career as a fashion model. She was heralded as "the next Cindy Crawford" and modeled for the likes of Prada, Versace, Gucci and others before meeting Prince Rahim Aga Khan, the eldest son of the spiritual leader of the global community of the Shia Ismaili Muslims.

The the two were married in Switzerland in August 2013, and Spears assumed the title Princess Salwa Aga Khan. They've since had two children.

Meghan Markle

American actress Rachel Meghan Markle is set to become the latest American to join a royal family when she marries Prince Harry on May 19. The Los Angeles native reportedly met Prince Harry on a blind date, and they announced their engagement in November 2017.

"We're in love. I'm sure there will be a time when we will have to come forward and present ourselves and have stories to tell, but I hope what people will understand is that this is our time," Markle told Vanity Fair of her relationship with Harry. "This is for us. It's part of what makes it so special, that it's just ours. But we're happy. Personally, I love a great love story."