American women who married royalty

WASHINGTON • Five American women have enjoyed a fairy-tale romance to become royalty.

Grace Kelly: The actress was at the peak of a glitzy Hollywood career when she married Prince Rainier III of Monaco in 1956.

She made her film debut in 1951 and won an Oscar for Best Actress in 1954 for The Country Girl. But she is perhaps best known for her roles in three Alfred Hitchcock movies - Dial M For Murder (1954), Rear Window (1954) and To Catch A Thief (1955).

She and Prince Rainier had three children - Princess Caroline; Prince Albert, the reigning monarch in Monaco; and Princess Stephanie. Kelly died in 1982 when her car ran off a road after she suffered a stroke at the wheel.

Wallis Simpson: She was a twice-divorced woman whose marriage to Britain's King Edward VIII led to him relinquishing the crown in 1936. She became involved with the then prince in 1934.

His relationship with a divorcee was frowned upon by Britain's upper crust. He became king in 1936 but abdicated that same year and married her the next year.

He died in 1972 and she in 1986. They had no children.

From left: Grace Kelly, Wallis Simpson, Rita Hayworth and Lisa Najeeb Halaby

Rita Hayworth: The actress married Prince Aly Khan - son of Aga Khan III, the then spiritual leader of Ismaili Muslims - in 1949 after the break-up of her marriage to actor-director Orson Welles.

After moving to Los Angeles as a teenager, the actress, born Margarita Carmen Cansino, had bit parts in several movies before adopting the screen name Hayworth.

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 (1946), in which she performed a strip scene which was seen as scandalous at the time.

In 1949, the pregnant star got married and gave birth to a daughter. She divorced in 1953 and went on to marry two more times. In her later years, she suffered from Alzheimer's disease and died in 1987.

Lisa Najeeb Halaby: She was born in 1951 in Washington to a prominent Christian Arab-American family. A graduate of Princeton University, she got married to Jordan's King Hussein in 1978, becoming Queen Noor al-Hussein.

They had four children. Since the king's death in 1999, she has been active in philanthropic activities.

Hope Cooke: The New York socialite married the crown prince of the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Sikkim in 1963.

She met Palden Thondup Namgyal, the widowed crown prince, during a 1959 trip to India as a college student. They married in 1963. She became queen consort when he took the throne in 1965.

Sikkim was annexed by India in the 1970s and she returned to the United States with their two children.

They divorced in 1980 and he died two years later. Cooke, now 77, recounted her life in a 1981 autobiography, Time Change.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 29, 2017, with the headline 'American women who married royalty'. Print Edition | Subscribe