Mar­riage puts Meghan in se­lect group

She joins a hand­ful of Amer­i­cans who have be­come se­nior roy­als

The Peterborough Examiner - - Arts & Life - LEANNE ITALIE

NEW YORK — Fol­low­ing her May 19 wed­ding to Prince Harry, Meghan Markle will join a hand­ful of Amer­i­cans who have be­come se­nior roy­als.

Here’s a look at some of her pre­de­ces­sors:

The Queen that never was

Bessie Wal­lis Warfield Simp­son was the twice-di­vorced so­cialite from Bal­ti­more whose love af­fair with King Ed­ward VIII trig­gered a con­sti­tu­tional cri­sis for the Bri­tish monar­chy in the 1930s.

They met when he was still Prince of Wales, through a tan­gled web in­volv­ing one of his mistresses. They mar­ried nearly three years later, but what a three years. He fell hard, be­com­ing the first Bri­tish monarch to vol­un­tar­ily give up the throne, on Dec. 10, 1936, be­fore her sec­ond di­vorce was fi­nal­ized and less than a year into his reign. Her mar­i­tal sta­tus and his role as head of the Church of Eng­land were in­sur­mount­able at the time.

The two be­came the Duke and Duchess of Wind­sor af­ter they mar­ried on June 3, 1937, set­tling into ex­ile in France and else­where. He did per­form some of­fi­cial du­ties, dur­ing the Sec­ond World War as gov­er­nor of the Ba­hamas, for in­stance. There was a visit to Ger­many with an Adolf Hitler photo op, and out­rage that they were Nazi sym­pa­thiz­ers.

In a 1969 BBC in­ter­view Wal­lis was asked: “Do you have any re­grets when you look back on your life?”

She replied: “Oh about cer­tain things, yes. I wish it could have been dif­fer­ent, but I mean I’m ex­tremely happy, and nat­u­rally we’ve had some hard times, but who hasn’t? You just have to learn to live with that.”

His­to­rian An­drew Mor­ton, in his re­cent book “Wal­lis in Love,” serves up the duchess as abu­sive and in­dif­fer­ent to her hubby by the early 1950s. She crit­i­cized as too salty the Bel­uga caviar he brought her in the hospi­tal in

1951 as she re­cov­ered from a hys­terec­tomy, shoo­ing him away. One Wind­sor ac­quain­tance called her “rude, odi­ous and strange.”

The two re­mained mar­ried un­til his death in 1972 at age 77. Simp­son died in 1986, when she was 89.

JFK’s sis­ter-in-law

Jac­que­line Kennedy Onas­sis had a younger sis­ter, born into the tony Southamp­ton, New

York, fam­ily as Caro­line Lee Bou­vier. She lived largely in Jackie’s shadow, though some con­sid­ered her the “pret­tier” and more vi­va­cious of the two.

The year be­fore John F. Kennedy an­nounced his run for the U.S. pres­i­dency, Lee mar­ried for the sec­ond time, to Pol­ish Prince Stanis­law Al­brecht Radzi­will, on March 19, 1959. It was his third mar­riage. They had two chil­dren. Both were teenagers when their par­ents di­vorced in 1974 af­ter 15 years of mar­riage.

It was Lee who in­tro­duced Jackie to Aris­to­tle Onas­sis, in 1963. Ru­mours have flown over the years on how Jackie’s mar­riage to Ari af­ter the as­sas­si­na­tion of Kennedy in­fu­ri­ated Lee, who mar­ried and di­vorced a third time af­ter the prince.

Lee, 85, has tried her hand at a va­ri­ety of things: act­ing, in­te­rior de­sign, pub­lic re­la­tions. The so­cialite has en­joyed the com­pany of celebri­ties, once hang­ing out with the Rolling Stones and Tru­man Capote. She di­vides her time between New York and Paris, hav­ing lived in Lon­don with her prince.

Caro­line Bou­vier Kennedy is Lee’s name­sake.

Princess Grace of Monaco

Grace Kelly, blond and pop­u­lar, was one of the world’s big­gest stars when she was plucked by Prince Rainier III of Monaco in 1956. She re­tired from act­ing at 26 to be­come his princess, de­camp­ing to the tiny, well-heeled Mediter­ranean prin­ci­pal­ity on the Riviera.

To say the union on that April 19 whipped up at­ten­tion is an un­der­state­ment. It was one of those wed­dings of the cen­tury. Al­fred Hitch­cock, one of Kelly’s film di­rec­tors, re­port­edly said of the mar­riage he was “very happy that Grace has found her­self such a good part.”

Kelly was re­port­edly ac­com­pa­nied by rel­a­tives, brides­maids, a poo­dle and more than 80 pieces of lug­gage when she set off for Monaco aboard the SS Con­sti­tu­tion. Thou­sands bid her farewell, with thou­sands more greet­ing her on the streets of Monaco eight days later.

Hitch­cock and other di­rec­tors courted Kelly to act again af­ter her mar­riage, but the prince re­port­edly ob­jected.

On Sept. 13, 1982, Kelly suf­fered a stroke and lost con­trol of her car on a steep, wind­ing road as she and their youngest child, Stephanie, drove back to Monaco from their coun­try es­tate. They ca­reened down a 120-foot moun­tain­side. Stephanie was in­jured. Kelly died later in a hospi­tal. She was 52.

The royal cou­ple had two other chil­dren: the el­dest, Princess Caro­line, and Prince Al­bert.

The first Royal from Hol­ly­wood

Rita Hay­worth was a screen queen in the 1940s and a pinup idol for the troops dur­ing the Sec­ond World War. She was mar­ried twice be­fore (in­clud­ing to Or­son Welles) and left Hol­ly­wood be­hind to marry Ital­ian-born Prince Ali Salman Aga Khan. Known as Aly Khan, he was the son of Sul­tan Ma­hommed Shah, Aga Khan III and leader of the Nizari Is­maili sect of Shia Is­lam. The two wed in Cannes, France, on May 27, 1949. While she had lit­tle in­ter­est in the Royal Fam­ily’s in­volve­ment in horse rac­ing, she did win sev­eral races in France with a filly named Dou­ble Rose.

Things be­gan to un­ravel in 1951, or so the story goes, when Khan was seen danc­ing with ac­tress Joan Fon­taine at the night­club where he and Hay­worth met. She filed for a Ne­vada di­vorce that Septem­ber, cit­ing “ex­treme cru­elty, en­tirely men­tal in na­ture,” and a cus­tody bat­tle for their daugh­ter, Yas­min Aga Khan, en­sued.

Re­li­gion was the fo­cus: Hay­worth wanted to raise the child as a Chris­tian and the prince of­fered her $1 mil­lion if she would rear Yas­min as a Mus­lim and al­low him ex­tended vis­its in Europe.

Hay­worth re­jected the of­fer, say­ing she re­spected all faiths but wished for her daugh­ter to be “raised as a nor­mal, healthy Amer­i­can girl in the Chris­tian faith.” Hay­worth was granted a di­vorce in Jan­uary 1953. She died in 1987 at 68 of com­pli­ca­tions from Alzheimer’s.


Bri­tain's Prince Harry, left, and Meghan

Markle will wed Satur­day, May 19.


Wal­lis Simp­son in 1941, Lee Radzi­will in 1974, ac­tress Grace Kelly in 1954 and ac­tress Rita Hay­worth in 1956. Ac­tress Meghan Markle will join the list of Amer­i­can women who have mar­ried into royal fam­i­lies when she weds Bri­tain's Prince Harry on May 19.


Cana­dian Au­tumn Kelly wed Peter Phillips, the el­dest grand­son of Queen El­iz­a­beth II, in May 2008.

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